Peter Rabbit & pals at Blenheim

Round & About

Henley & Watlington

Looking for something fun and immersive to do with your little bunnies in a gorgeous setting?

The Peter Rabbit Garden Adventure is the fabulous live immersive experience in the grounds of Blenheim Palace until 3rd September.

We have some happy bunnies here at Round & About who have loved the magical mix of storytelling, live performance, and puppetry.

Developed in association with Frederick Warne & Co, this is the first time Peter Rabbit has appeared in this way, and is also a first for World Heritage Site Blenheim Palace which has allowed unprecedented access for families trying to save Peter Rabbit from ending up in Mr McGregor’s pie.

The Peter Rabbit Garden Adventure is a fabulous live immersive experience in the grounds of Blenheim Palace

This 50-minute immersive adventure celebrates Beatrix Potter’s beloved rabbit who has starred in 250 million books sold since he first appeared at the start of the 20th century. The experience has been created by the team behind Autumn Treasure Hunt with Percy The Park Keeper At Chiswick House & Gardens.

There are also free activities on site and a Peter Rabbit Farm Shop.

Find out more

For more info or to book your trip please visit PeterRabbitGardenAdventure.com & blenheimpalace.com

Thame Food Festival bursary winner announced

Karen Neville

Henley & Watlington

Popular food festival runs on September 24th & 25th and this year more than 180 artisan producers are set to take part

Hartley’s Cookery School, based in Haddenham, has been awarded the Thame Food Festival bursary for 2022.

The bursary, reinstalled after sponsorship by Pinkster Gin, was established a few years ago to celebrate and promote newly-formed artisan food business within a 30-mile radius of Thame.

Hartley’s Cookery School aims to offer cookery class and chef table experiences which explore food, why certain ingredients or techniques are used and how to prepare and cook it. While also creating an environment that is fun and appealing for everyone – whatever their ability.

Creating an environment that is fun and appealing for everyone

Simon Hartley, Chef and owner of Hartley’s Cookery School said of the win: “I am delighted to be receiving this bursary and the support of the team at Thame Food Festival. Since opening our doors at Bradmoor Farm in January it’s been amazing to welcome and cook with our first guests at the school. We want to be a community-led business and have so enjoyed building relationships with other food producers and suppliers. Our vision for the school is to share my knowledge and passion for food in a relaxed environment, offering fun-filled courses for all abilities. Whether you’ve never picked up a knife or are a seasoned foodie, there’s something for everyone!”

The bursary includes an award of £1,000, a free pitch at this year’s Thame Food Festival, content in the festival programme, the opportunity to have an interview in the Food Glorious Food marquee and help with PR and social media.

Previous winners have included Ozi Lala, who has gone on to win Great Taste awards for his unique food products and the original winner was Lisa Hartwright of Tess’ Brilliant Bakes. Both of whom are going from strength to strength and still play an active part in the food festival too.

Supporting young businesses that have the same ethics as the festival is an important part of what we try to do

Patron and event co-ordinator Lotte Duncan said: “We are delighted to be in a position to offer a bursary again – thanks to Pinkster Gin. As a Community Interest Company, supporting young businesses that have the same ethics as the festival is an important part of what we try to do. It was such a pleasure to meet Simon and his partner and hear what they are trying to achieve by giving people friendly, fun cookery courses while learning about the provenance of their food.”

What will he spend the bursary on? Simon said: “As we have only been trading for just over five months, we are looking to use the bursary to invest in upgrading our website, signage and professional photography. Plus, use the support of the judges to broaden awareness of us and explore how we can potentially look at supporting initiatives in the community too.”

Find out more about them at Hartley’s Cookery School and to book tickets for the festival go to Thame Food Festival

It’s come home – at last!

Round & About

Henley & Watlington

Now it’s over to you… be inspired by our Lionesses and get involved in football where you are, whatever your age and ability

Football has come home, it’s taken 56 years to win a major honour but it was well worth waiting for as England women’s captain Leah Williamson lifted the Womens Euros 2022 trophy at Wembley on Sunday.

The amazing achievement of beating eight-times winners Germany 2-1 was immense and while many backed the Lionesses as the favourites for the tournament on home soil, the result is truly outstanding and the women deserve all the plaudits and honours that will come their way.

One of the key aims for The FA and the England Women has been ensuring that this fabulous celebration of football creates a legacy for future generations and encourages as many women and girls as possible to get involved in the beautiful game.

Whatever your age and ability, football is for all and offers a huge opportunity for women and girls to engage in a healthy lifestyle through football, promoting both physical activity and mental health benefits too.

Follow in the Lionesses’ footsteps there are many options open to you.

Whether you just want to have a kick about with your mates, have a go at walking football or want to join a local club and perhaps follow in the Lionesses’ footsteps there are many options open to you.

Oxfordshire FA has a number of initiatives for girls and women to play their part in the “beautiful game” and is currently looking at relaunching the Women’s Small Sided Leagues such as 5-a-side – the ideal introduction to get into the game or get back into it.

Walking football offers a slower version of the game and enables women to play football under the same rules, enjoying the same great game just at a slower pace. Try Oxford United Walking Football Club at The Oxford Academy on Sunday afternoons.

Oxfordshire FA are also taking part in #LetGirlsPlay to celebrate the UEFA Women’s Euros 2022 and give women and girls’ the opportunity to get involved with football in their local community – any age, any ability.

Get involved!

As several players and commentators said after the epic win, this has to be the start of something even more special.

Gilt trip!

Liz Nicholls

Henley & Watlington

Liz Nicholls chats to Nat & Ko, whose emporium Gilt & Grain in Southmoor is adding style & pizzazz to homes big and small.

Forget the pub… for more than 2,000 interiors fans, the Friday evening new stock email from Gilt & Grain is the real start of the weekend.

The weekly mail drop of fresh treasures has a sales rate most businesses can only dream of, with more than 60% of items snapped up this way. If you see something you like, you’d better buy it quickly as the beautiful, eclectic items go like hot cakes, as I learned to my cost recently.

I am now primed for buying, which is how I became proud owner of an enormous Tudor-meets Bridgerton upholstered headboard last weekend.

“Customers often refer to the Friday evening email as one of the highlights of their week due to the eclectic list of items,” Ko tells me. “When it arrives they know it is the beginning of their weekend!”

If you see something you like, you’d better buy it quickly as the beautiful, ecletic items go like hot cakes

Gilt & Grain has a gorgeously curated bricks-and-mortar shop in a lovingly restored 19th century chapel featuring a steel mezzanine. But one of the reasons Gilt & Grain has such a loyal fanbase is the couple’s decision to have a strong online presence by operating a website that is updated daily with multiple photographs and dimensions of each item of furniture.

After turning 40, after 24 years as a self-employed carpenter mainly working on period houses, Nat decided to start selling antiques and paintings on Ebay. After 18 months, a run-down shop became available in Oxford which he thought would be good for storage.

And after 20 years in retail Ko, who was at the time manager for TOAST on the High Street, was looking for a new challenge. The East Oxford treasure trove won a loyal customer base (me included) for a few years before the Old Chapel called…

The couple still live in Oxfordshire, and their two-year-old cocker spaniel Millie can often be found lending a paw in the shop.

“Our own interior aesthetic is eclectic,” adds Nat. “Our home is full of what I love whether mid-century or Georgian period furniture. I’ve always believed good design from any period, if carefully selected, can always look good together. We take very little notice of trends so this means interior designers often pick up rather good buys from us! Bamboo and rattan furniture is still selling very swiftly as is furniture with bobbin-turned legs. Due to Instagram, trends are now so swift that they come and go without us even noticing!”

Buying antique and used furniture is sustainable: a lot of the furniture Gilt & Grain sells is at least 200 years old and still perfectly usable, practical and very attractive.

“In recession people look around to save money and antiques are still very affordable,” adds Ko. “For example we recently sold a beautiful Regency sideboard for £185 with the original receipt from a LAPADA member dealer which the previous deceased owner originally purchased in the late 1980s for £1,895. We also often sell used modern good quality or designer pieces as greatly reduced sums.”

Find out more

Thanks to their good eye and high turnover, the shop attracts people from all walks of life, including some high-profile celebrities… And you might hear Ko practising the cello with Millie. Or else join the club of subscribers. Fight you for the best bits!

Visit giltandgrain.com

An American Perspective in West Wycombe

Liz Nicholls

Henley & Watlington

This August, at long last, after three years of holding no exhibitions, the West Wycombe Art Group (WWAG) are pleased to welcome you to their popular Annual Summer Exhibitions in August, Trevor Baker tells us.

This year our featured artist, DeeDee Nash Ruffo Nash, offers an American perspective on the local scene.

Where DeeDee started

DeeDee Ruffo Nash began her artistic life in Grade 1 at St Joseph’s School in Norwich, Connecticut USA when she won a prize for one of her paintings. This very early success must have inspired her to pursue a life which has always held art as an important and integral part because she went on to complete a diploma in Commercial Art at the Paier School of Art in Newhaven Connecticut.

Not only is she an active participant in drawing and painting but she embraces music as well being a competent harpsichordist and violinist.

This all developed further when she became immersed in a lively local arts community which encouraged (and actively practised) painting, music and theatre.

DeeDee Nash Ruffo Nash_Paris Night
DeeDee Nash Ruffo Nash_Puffins, colour

DeeDee moved on to carve out a freelance career based on graphic arts in the creative commercial world. She moved from the USA to England in 1996 where her artistic career continued and thrived and she joined the West Wycombe Art Group in 1997.

DeeDee has two favourite media, oil paint and pen and ink – but she also uses charcoal very skillfully to produce lovely, and very convincing portraits.

Her art

When using oils, the main inspirations for her paintings are the mood and atmosphere surrounding dusk and early evening. She loves the dark, sometimes brooding hues of gold and green and the gentle touches of slightly misty blues. Her delicate lightness of touch achieves some remarkable results and her lovely peaceful landscapes offer great serenity and charm. She doesn’t stop there. She is also captivated by the night life of city centres, the bright lights and deep shadows which contribute to the drama of a scene and is then enhanced by shapes and figures which suggest an intriguing background story. Her paintings are a delight.

Her work in her other medium, pen and ink is equally captivating and results in some intriguing pictures. Stark black and white imagery, with subtle nods to Aubrey Beardsley shape and design, are created by the artists in what she describes as “constructive doodling”.

DeeDee Nash Ruffo Nash_Lake Sunset 1
DeeDee Nash Ruffo Nash_Moby Dick

Constructive Doodling

She allows her mind to wander the blank page and almost lets the pen decide the route to take. That route dictates her decisions to move on in an imaginative way to make sense of what could be chaos. This brings the process under control and eventually a delightful design emerges. These designs can exist in their own right or colour can be added to enhance and further the images. “Constructive Doodling” works!

Whatever medium takes the attention we hope that visitors to the exhibition will enjoy the experience of viewing DeeDee’s creations alongside work from 23 other artists.

The exhibition

The West Wycombe Art Group Annual Exhibition takes place in the West Wycombe village hall and runs from Friday, 26th to Monday 29th August. It is open daily from 10am to 5pm on Friday and Monday and from 10am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday

Your Will, your way

Round & About

Henley & Watlington

David Robinson, Director of Templar Estate Planning discusses the importance of everyone having an up to date and valid Will. If you do not have a Will or changes have happened in your life, please read on!

Thinking about your Will and how you want your property and assets shared out after you die is something that no one really wants to do… but you know you should. I speak with people every week about this, and one thing is clear – there is always a great sense of relief once your Will and other Estate Planning has been completed.

It has been estimated that two thirds of people in the UK do not have a Will or any other form of estate planning in place, with the average person thinking:

• I’ll sort it later, there is plenty of time.

• What is the need? Everything I have will go to my spouse

• No need, my family will be able to agree on how to divide it all up

• Or.. I’m just not sure how to go about getting it all sorted.

Are you like this?

If you are, I would greatly encourage you to get your affairs in order now. Don’t let your family or loved ones down by dying without a Will. Here at Templar Estate Planning we specialise in providing a bespoke service whilst making the process as easy possible for our clients.

What happens If you don’t have a Will place?

In short it will mean that your loved ones, the people you want to benefit, may have a very big job to sort your affairs at a very difficult time in their life.

Without a Will you will be declared as “Intestate” – this means that your estate will be shared out to your family under certain rules – that may not be in the manner that you would like. This is particularly relevant if you are not married because under intestacy rules, your partner may not get anything.

If you are declared intestate there is a real potential that the courts will need to get involved in order to process the distribution of your estate; this can be costly, take a lot of time and even possibly cause issues within the family at a vulnerable time for them. All of which can be avoided with a Will.

Without a Will, parents of younger children are often surprised to find that should the worst happen, Guardianship of children can be contentious and decided by the Courts – someone who you may not want, could be asked to look after you children. With a Will, you can clearly state who should be the Guardians.

It probably seems obvious to say this, but with a Will you can clearly state who you want to leave your assets to. This is not just any money you might have, but also your personal and loved possessions. Importantly it also means that you can say who should not benefit.

You might have a particular cause or charity that you support and want to leave a legacy towards after you have gone. With a Will you can clearly state who this is, how much they should receive and the reasons behind your gift.

With a Will you can also lower the risk of potential family disputes. We have all heard stories where families have sadly fallen out with each other over a relative’s estate. A clearly written Will with commentary can remove any contention and leave your beneficiaries understanding and respecting your bequests.

Types of Will

We often get asked about simple Wills compared to a more sophisticated ones using Trusts. My view on a simple Will is that, although they are better than nothing, depending on your personal circumstances they can leave you exposed to avoidable threats and lose your family money. When you are planning to get your first Will or checking to see if yours still meets your requirements, think about:

• If you have a larger estate – these days that could mean even just owning your house – you could be exposed to unnecessary Inheritance Tax.

• Care home fees could result in your family home being lost to future generations.

• You may want to ensure that your children’s inheritance is protected if you spouse or partner get married again after you have gone.

• Whether your beneficiaries, for whatever reason, may not be able to manage their inheritance without help. This could be because they are in debt or threatened by creditors, or even not have the mental capacity to cope, through to you not 100% trusting their partners.

These and other threats to your estate can be mitigated by an experienced Will writer and estate planner, utilising more sophisticated Wills with Trusts.

With this type of robust planning, you will leave your estate in good hands and will minimise the work and upset for your beneficiaries.

I urge you to not delay in this vital planning. There are many options to get a Will these days and who you go to will depend on your own circumstances and what you feel comfortable with. The most important thing is to ensure that you have a valid and robust Will and if needed, further estate planning in place, to match your specific needs.

Here at Templar Estate Planning we are happy to, and without charge, take the time to discuss with you, and to ensure that all your needs are covered and importantly that you understand the whole process before you commit to our services.

Contact us today to book your free and absolutely no obligation consultation, we look forward to meeting you.

Call: 0118 948 4381
Email:
Visit our site: www.templarestateplanning.co.uk

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning allows you to put together a clear plan that details exactly your wishes regarding how you would like your estate to be managed and distributed on your death, or managed during your life should you become incapacitated.

What is an estate?

We all have an estate. Granted some may be bigger and more complicated than others, but we all have one. That is why you should be thinking now what should happen to your estate when you die or should you become incapacitated in your lifetime.

Your estate is made up of everything you own: your home and perhaps other property or land you might have, your car, your savings, investments, bank accounts, your business, and your personal possessions right through from jewellery to your golf clubs!

The basic planning you should think about:

Your Will

Number one on the list is your Will. There are many reasons to have a Will, the main is to avoid being declared intestate and therefore having your estate distributed by intestacy rules that may be in a manner that is not to your wishes. This is particularly important for unmarried couples.

Trusts

Trusts are effectively a protective wrapper around your estate or parts of it, which provide the extra protection that your requirements might demand. There are many uses for Trusts, including but not limited to; ensuring that a partner can stay in your family home after your death, protecting younger or vulnerable beneficiaries’ inheritance, or ensuring that your loved ones do not pay unnecessary tax after you have died.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA)

A lasting power of attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more trusted people to make decisions on your behalf in your lifetime should you lose mental capacity to do so. This gives you more control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness and cannot make your own decisions.

Transparency

Transparency and clarity of your wishes. On the whole, Wills and other estate planning is very much about the “what” and the “how”, but not about the “why” of your wishes. We can work to provide clarity on the reasons for your decisions and gifting through our Will Clarity and Statement of Execution documents to leave no room for misinterpretation or possible claims against your Estate.

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A new lease of life

Round & About

Henley & Watlington

A move to McCarthy Stone’s Jupiter House in Milton Keynes has helped give a retired newsagent a social network and greater peace of mind  

Having spent nearly 40 years behind the till of their family-run newsagents alongside her husband, Jill Lee, 75, was used to the hustle and bustle that comes with being at the heart of the community. 

After the loss of her husband Graham over 10 years ago, Jill and her family decided that it could be a good time for her to downsize and luckily, spotted McCarthy Stone’s Jupiter House under construction, just a ten-minute walk from daughter Katie’s home near Milton Keynes. 

“There’s always someone to have a chat with and I’ve got all of my friends right on my doorstep!”

Katie says: “We decided to move mum into a relatively new house, in a quiet cul-de-sac but after 40 years of living in a busy newsagents, it was just too quiet for her and she was becoming quite lonely and isolated.” 

Jill’s younger daughter, Isobel, lives in California with her two children, and with the pandemic severely impacting travel, being closer to loved ones was something the family felt would be beneficial for Jill. Katie says: “We were driving around one day near to where we live in Milton Keynes when we spotted the hoardings going up for Jupiter House. I said ‘why don’t you move here so you’re closer to us?’ and mum agreed so we registered as soon as we could!” 

Jill and her daughter Katie

After so many years being surrounded by people, this was an important factor in Jill’s decision to move, as she explains: “Our life was the newsagents, we used to open at 6am and close at 8pm at night, meeting and talking to people – that’s what we loved to do. When my husband died and I moved, although I had neighbours, they were always out at work, and really, I led quite a lonely life and I missed having people around me. Now, there’s always someone to have a chat with and I’ve got all of my friends right on my doorstep!” 

Since moving into her one-bedroom apartment in May 2021, which she did using McCarthy Stone’s convenient ‘Smooth Move’ scheme, Jill has wasted no time getting to know her new neighbours, and has even started what has become known as ‘The 2 O’Clock Club’ with some of her fellow homeowners. 

As well as offering a much-needed social network it has made a positive impact on Jill’s life and also offered the family greater peace of mind and the safety net of knowing Sarah the House Manager and her team are on hand if needed. Jill added: “We can’t speak highly enough of them; they’re always going out of their way to help.” 

Jupiter House features a selection of one and two-bedroom apartments, built exclusively for the over-60’s. Homeowners can also enjoy a spacious communal homeowners lounge and beautiful landscaped gardens while visiting relatives can make use of the handy hotel-style guest suite. 

Prices for the one and two-bedroom apartments at Jupiter House currently start from £225,000 and £340,000 respectively. Rental and part buy part rent options are also available to make moving even easier. 

For more information on Retirement Living in Milton Keynes, please call 0800 201 4743 or visit www.mccarthystone.co.uk. 

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Star Q&A: Gok Wan

Round & About

Henley & Watlington

Television star Gok Wan, 47, talks to us ahead of his dazzling star turn as the Man In The Mirror in Snow White at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre from 4th December to 2nd January

Hi Gok! How did you get involved in pantomime? “I’ve dreamt of being on stage forever. I first began to think about panto some years back. I was fascinated… Then one evening, maybe 2012 or 2013, I was with Lionel Blair and the very naughty Louie Spence. They said I really should give it a try. I spoke with my agent and Channel Four got involved. I first met Snow White then. There have been other pantos since then but it’s really great to be back with Snow White.”

Q. What’s your character The Man In The Mirror like to play? “Man In The Mirror sounds like a piece of furniture! I’m not and it isn’t! The script is amazing. I finished re-reading it again this morning – the tradition has again been tweaked for the 2020s and I’m excited. The mirror has messages. The mirror motivates. The mirror is magic.”

Q. And your costume… do you have a professional opinion about it? “Do I have an opinion? Oh yes I do! I like it. I was encouraged from the start to contribute input, although the designer anticipated so much that my suggestions could be called incidental. There’s a vital aspect, though, and one I insist on. An aspect that’s seen and unseen – the fit! My costume has to fit and over the Christmas period that could mean adjustments… It’s gotta be done.”

Q. Do you have any pre-show dressing room rituals? “Haha! Not only in the dressing room! Yes, I’m superstitious and my rituals – as you call them – go on throughout the performance; I don’t leave them to lurk alone in the dressing room. What can I tell you? Ahh, there’s ‘first on stage.’ Of course there is going to be stage crew but I like to be the first cast member on stage before a performance. What else? This year in Snow White I am required to fly and when I’m up high, without fail, I whisper a hello to my Mum. I love the flying bit. Love it, love it!”

Q. What is the secret to a great pantomime? “Three ‘secrets’: the first is definitely the audience; the second is likely to be the audience and the third, in my experience, is probably the audience. I like to open the show, to greet and welcome everyone and I can predict within 20 seconds
just what sort of evening it will be. People
have probably had tensions at work, frustrations with traffic, delays or hold-ups – it’s important to me that everyone feels wanted.”

Q. We’re enjoying your new TV show Bling… “I believe you can get a lot from the series. Jewellery can mean so much more than ‘an accessory’ – so often there is special significance attached to a piece. The series sparkles with stories, memories and emotion, as well as amazing technical skills and explanations. It is fascinating. I learned a lot.”

Q. Do you know this part of the world well? “Not really. My home’s London so I’ll commute. I like town and city life. The hustle, the bustle, the noise, the rush, the dirt, energy, sweat, the crowds. I am a absolutely a city boy! I was brought up and lived over a restaurant so it’s what I’m used to.”

To book, call 0333 009 6690 or visit atgtickets.com

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Star Q&A: Samantha Womack

Round & About

Henley & Watlington

Actress, singer, model & director Samantha Womack tells us about festive feelings as she stars as the White Witch in The Lion, The Witch & the Wardrobe at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre as part of its UK tour

Q. Hello! We’re celebrating Christmas shows. Did you go to many of these as a youngster? “I loved all shows as a child. My grandmother was a choreographer and often had friends in shows. She was a great friend of the theatre manager at the Palladium and so I remember going to see Michael Crawford in Barnum countless times which was an incredible performance.”

Q. What is it about this production of the CS Lewis play that will really make Christmas sparkle? And why should we all book a seat? “This production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is directed by Michael Fentiman whose work I’m a massive fan of. With this production he brings a similar vibrancy and originality that he created with his award-winning Amelie. It is a magicial, spellbinding show with Narnia being revealed in earthy pagan magic and musicians on stage whose physical talent is breathtaking.”

Q. Any favourite hang-outs or places to visit while you’re in town? “Aylesbury is an area I’ve performed in over the years, in South Pacific, Guys & Dolls… so I have many fond memories of here. I always bring my dogs with me as there are so many beautiful walks around Thames Valley.”

Q. What’s your go-to snack or food or drink you could never live without? “I try to eat healthy food as I eat a lot. Avocados and kimchi is my current craving and homegrown veg. Having said that, Lidl does dangerously good ice cream…”

Q. What’s the best meal you’ve ever had & choice for a last supper? “The best meal I’ve ever had? Tricky! Anything my grandmother cooked. She did a mean Welsh rarebit and roast tatties.”

Q. Who would be your six dream dinner party guests, alive or dead, real or fictional? “My six dream dinner guests would be Oliver Reed, Richard Burton, Nick Drake, Edith Piaf, Sidney Poitier and Kathryn Hepburn.”

Q. What’s your first memory of music? And your favourite song or album? “My first memory of music was my Dad playing Cat Stevens on acoustic guitar. I miss that sound.”

Q. Do you love Christmas, and what especially are you looking forward to this year? “Christmas is special to me. My father Noel was born on Christmas Eve so that feels bittersweet but I always have a house full of people and music over the Christmas break.”

Q. What other highlights are on your horizon? “I have just bought a retreat business with my partner in Valencia in the mountains and so we will be working on that next year.”

Q. If you could be a real white witch for a moment and make one wish for the world, what would it be? “My wish for the world would be environmental awareness so we stop any more species and plants from being wiped out. And it sounds corny but… to be kind and love one another.”

For tickets please visit atgtickets.co.uk

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Star Q&A: Timmy Mallett

Liz Nicholls

Henley & Watlington

Broadcaster, artist & dad Timmy Mallett, who turns 66 this month, tells Liz Nicholls about family, football, art and his new book Utterly Brilliant – My Life’s Journey

Q. Hello Timmy. It’s wonderful to speak to you & I’ve really enjoyed your book, in fact I cried reading it! Are you pleased with it? “That’s very kind of you, I’m pleased it resonates. I’m proud of it, yes. You don’t know when you write a book how it’s going to go down. I wanted to combine the story of an adventure, a big personal challenge, with memoirs of Wacaday and my radio days and career and things I’ve done over the years, and my love of history and art. How do you do that? And I remember my editor saying: ‘you start at the beginning and crack on and see how it goes’. Haha!”

Q. I loved your drawings at the start of each chapter. “Part of that is to stop and look at where you’ve stopped. I say it in the book: work on the assumption you’re only going to do this once, you’re not going to come back and do it again with more time. It’s not every day can you devote masses of time to drawing so give it all you can in the moment. Sitting down and drawing or sketching or painting is a way of thinking about at the place you’re at and absorbing it. And that’s the nice thing about taking the bike, because you have to think about what you’re going to take. In a car you chuck everything in, but on the bike, you have to be quite precise. It seemed to work.”

Q. Your late brother Martin sounds so inspirational. Do you still talk to him, as you do in the book, and feel he’s still with you? “Thank you. Yes I do, it happens every day, Liz. Every day I have those little conversations with him. He pops up in what we’re doing. I remember when I was planning the adventure I was thinking about Martin and how he reached his potential. It takes the pressure off, in some ways. You haven’t got to be the best or the fastest… you’ve just got to be the best you can be. And Martin, with his language and learning difficulties, showed me how to do that, just by being absorbed and interested in everything he was doing. As brothers sometimes it was a little bit annoying that it wasn’t at the same speed, but he was always in the moment, he lived his life in the moment and his time scale was different. We often judge things as ‘life will be good when… lockdown’s over or when I get the new job, when I move house, when I go on holiday, get the new outfit…’ Well, what’s wrong with now? Now’s the moment. Everything’s got a time limit hasn’t it? We think everything’s going to carry on forever, like this lovely warm hot sunny day. Tomorrow we will need a jumper on!”

Q. What do you love about living here? “I moved into this house 30 years ago this Christmas and my son Billy, who’s grown up here, and was born here, is a gardener in the neighbourhood; he speaks with a Berkshire burr. The thing I love about it is the people; it’s great for families. It’s a lovely place to live. I’m passionate about my cycling and there’s some great cycle routes, either out southwards to Windsor or north into the Chilterns. I’ve got good friends here, I play five-a-side football, tennis. There’s good pubs and restaurants. I ring the bells at Holy Trinity church; I like the involvement. The fact I’ve put down roots, haha! This is the longest I’ve lived anywhere and it’s got something special about it. Then seeing the way Billy has taken to being a gardener. He knows the Latin names, the nicknames and the proper names of every plant in the garden as well as every football team in the country. I like the fact that when I’m out and about people say ‘hello Timmy!’”

Q. And Oxford United? “I love Oxford I’ve been a passionate fan of them since the 1990s when I worked at Radio Oxford when they soared. I watched how when the football went well, the town did well, there was a bounce in the air and people were inspired. I have two teams now – I have Oxford and also Maidenhead Utd who have the oldest football ground in the world. With both my teams, I like the ambition at the start of the season. Pre-season in these friendlies, new players are coming in you’re thinking ‘are they any good? Are they going to be better than the last lot? Are they going to set us alight and entertain us?’ Then, 45 minutes in, they’re 3-0 down and you’re like ‘arrrgh where are my hopes and dreams?!’ It’s about enjoying the ride. I don’t judge the season by whether they get promoted. No: it might be a great season if they stay up! If they stay in the midst of it all with great games or a great run. All those things are to be celebrated and you’re seeing players giving their best and trying their hardest. All these ups & downs are to be celebrated.”

Q. What are your favourite songs? “Anything by the Beatles. I often have Band On The Run by Paul McCartney & Wings playing loudly in the house, and The Stranger by Billy Joel. Lovely haunting melodies in there. And The Bluebells’ Young At Heart. Pop music is your personal diary isn’t it?”

Q. What’s your first memory of music? “My mum playing the piano. Pop music was always really important, too. Listening to Alan Freeman on Pick Of The Charts each week. The charts mattered – whether they went up or down. How they did in the league. We used to love that. When I was at boarding school my brother used to send me lists of the charts and what he thought they should be. We had a little pop group, me and my brothers. Paul couldn’t remember the words, Martin couldn’t say the words so I made them up. We were called the Kettleholders. Singing and pretending to be pop stars!”

Q. Which artists inspire you? “I really like the impressionists – I like Dutch 17th century artists like Vermeer and modern artists like David Hockney who rejoices in painting the seasons.”

Q. Do you have any favourite local galleries? “Nova in Marlow, Lemongrove in Henley and Whitewall galleries have all supported my art. I like going to visit some of the weird and wonderful museums we have in the Thames Valley – the chair museum in Wycombe! Wow! Bizarre! Reading Museum in the old town hall which has a copy of the Bayeux Tapestry. I like the Ashmolean museum in Oxford. I like the Bodgers exhibit in the Turvill Church, in the vestry. The Bodgers lived and worked making chair spindles in the 19th century. I like the Heritage Centre in Maidenhead. And if you want to see more of my art look at Mallettspallette.co.uk

Q. Who would be your dream party guests? “Eleanor of Aquitaine, an impressive woman in a man’s world. Tom Hanks, particularly because I love his character’s line in Castaway; ‘all we have to do is keep breathing because tomorrow the sun will rise & you never know what the tide will bring in’. I’d have Gareth Southgate. Also, I’ve been watching The Kominsky Method on Netflix and Michael Douglas seems like good value. And my mate Michaela Strachan who makes me laugh.”

Q. Do you get any weird fan mail or attention? “Fan mail is interesting because I get it just as regularly now as in the Wacaday days. It doesn’t surprise me when a message comes via social media or actual letters. Everyone has their memory of Wacaday, like you Liz, when you said you and your sister used to watch it. I was in the British Museum and someone shouted ‘Tony! You’re Tony Robinson, wow!’ I reminded him of Baldrick, obviously. Some people want a pinky-punky mallet, so I brought out a 30th anniversary edition which people can buy.”

Q.  If you had a magic wand, as well as your mallet, what would you wish for the world? “I feel as though climate change is fixable, all we have to do is put our minds to it. I’ve done this in a small way in my own house. If I could have a domestic wind turbine on the roof, I would do. I’d find a way to make where I live work harder. I reckon it’s doable in the bigger picture. I’m optimistic.”

Q. You’ve done so much in your varied career! Anything in the pipeline? “These are the golden years to make the most of what you’ve got and make it happen. One of the things I was surprised about, researching the Camino, was how much connection there was with the Thames Valley. Santiago de Compostela is where you go to see the tomb of St James the Apostle, where all of him is buried except for his left hand, which is in Marlow, at St Peter’s. Then when I was planning my trip, I contacted my MP who said I want to hear more about this, so the PM came to my house to hear about the camino. Then there’s the Bishop of Oxford who didn’t know about any of it. All these little connections putting people together. Your story is part of the thousands of ‘Camino’ journeys that happen every year. There’s probably another adventure to do on my bike. And there’s another big idea which I’m trying to persuade Mrs Mallett about, so I don’t feel it’s fair to tell you first, Liz, until she’s on board! At the moment she’s like; ‘you’re going to do what?!’  I want to do more cycling and painting – that suits me. Meeting people, hearing their stories, sharing some tales would be a good thing to do. Always take that inspiration of brother Martin, with the smile on his face and a warm embrace.”

Please visit Timmymallett.co.uk & mallettspallette.co.uk

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