The Cricket Professionals of Oxford

Round & About

abingdon

They have been playing cricket in Abingdon for a long time, as local author Michael Stimpson tells us in his new book The Cricket Professionals of Oxford

The first Abingdon Cricket Club was established in 1821 and played at a ground in Shippon. It was very much a club for gentlemen of the neighbourhood and not for the riff raff.

Throughout the Victorian period, cricket was played at many places in the town, including the Race Course on Abingdon Common, in the grounds of Caldecott House, and on a meadow in Rye Farm.

It was not until 1892 that a new cricket and football ground was opened, just over the bridge on Culham Road, and cricket has been played there ever since.

In the 1920’s and 30’s, all sorts of cricket teams sprung up in the town. The Abingdon Pavlova Cricket Club was the most successful, winning several trophies. Other teams at this time included the Abingdon Police, Abingdon GPO, MG Athletic, Abingdon Imperials and RAF Abingdon, as well as sides from different churches.

Some notable cricketers have played at Abingdon, including future England captain Plum Warner, who turned out for the town club whilst at Oxford University.

Michael also tells us how in recent times, the Abingdon Vale Cricket Club has nurtured the development of young players passing through its youth section. Of these youngsters, six have gone on to become professional cricketers, with two sets of brothers, Ben and Luke Charlesworth, and Tom and Ollie Price, joining Gloucestershire, whilst Harrison Ward and Zach Lion-Cachet now play for Sussex. All of these young cricketers are showing promise, with Ollie Price having played for England Lions on a tour to South Africa last winter. Oxfordshire Head Coach Rupert Evans said: “Abingdon Vale have good coaches, but it is just amazing that one cricket club has produced all of these lads.”

Abingdon has a long cricketing history, but looking to the future, some of its former youth players could go on to make a name for themselves.

The Cricket Professionals of Oxford by Michael Stimpson is available in local bookshops and Ebay pp £14.

One Planet Living Festival: 15th June

Round & About

abingdon

One Planet Abingdon (OPA) is hosting an event in June to celebrate Abingdon’s culture and community by bringing everyone together.

The environment group is collaborating with other community organisations and charities to stage the One Planet Living Festival on Saturday, June 15th, from 10am to 5pm in the Market Place. The festival will feature a range of eco traders, information on sustainable living, and activities and performances for all ages.

OPA co-founder Michelle Charlesworth expressed her excitement: “It has been my vision since the conception of One Planet that we would come together as a community. This collaboration is the realization of that vision, showcasing our rich culture and community. We can enjoy one another’s tradition, music, and stories, truly connecting as we continue our journey to a one planet living town.”

OPA is partnering with Evoking Belonging, the Abingdon Events Partnership, and Abingdon Town Council to bring this festival to the town. Local businesses such as Taiwil Fashions, Planted Plates, and Tribe Zero will host stalls promoting the ten principles aimed at creating a better world. Abingdon’s Morris Dancers and local artists will perform, representing the diverse cultures of Abingdon.

Dianne Regisford of Evoking Belonging highlighted the importance of social cohesion: “As more African-Caribbean and other ethnic origin families come to live in Abingdon, the social, cultural, and racial dynamics of the town change. To ensure a vibrant, socially cohesive, and economically buoyant town, it’s imperative to create strategies and opportunities for all to thrive. This is a social justice vision of belonging for all.”

OPA, launched in 2021 in response to Abingdon Town Council’s climate and ecological emergency declaration, runs the Climate Emergency Centre (CEC) under the County Hall Museum. The CEC provides refreshments for visitors while exploring the implications of transitioning to zero carbon living, a target set by the national government. The volunteer-led organisation welcomes anyone concerned about the environment to get involved.

The One Planet Living principles are: Health and happiness, Equity and local economy, Culture and community, Land and nature, Sustainable water, Local and sustainable food, Travel and transport, Materials and products, Zero waste, and Zero carbon energy.

For more information or to help with OPA activities, including the festival, visit http://www.oneplanetabingdon.org/ or visit the CEC, open from 10am to 4pm, Thursday to Sunday.

Evoking Belonging addresses the increasingly diverse population of Abingdon. Its founder, Dianne Regisford, was recently elected to Oxford Town Council representing the Green Party.

Abingdon Air & Country Show returns

Round & About

abingdon

Look to the skies on Saturday May 18th for thrilling day of aviation and much more.

The annual Air and Country Show is set to return to the former RAF Abingdon on Saturday, May 18th. The event, which has grown beyond all recognition over the years is organized by a dedicated team of volunteers led by a small committee.

The event promises a thrilling day for aviation enthusiasts and families.

The highlight of the show will be an impressive afternoon Air Display featuring a lineup of spectacular aircraft, including:

Supermarine Spitfire Mk19

The Titans Display Team

Muscle Pitts aerobatics accompanied by an exhilarating car race

Hawker Hurricane Mk1

The Gazelle Display Team (consisting of four helicopters)

RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team

RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire & Hurricane for flypasts

These display aircraft will also be available for static viewing, alongside specially invited statics such as the Historic Army Aircraft Flight Beaver & Auster, Chipmunk, Sioux, Skeeter & Scout, and Navy Wings’ Harvard.

One of the main highlights of the show is the large aircraft Fly In, with over 50 modern and historic aircraft flying in for display on the ground, ranging from Tiger Moths to the impressive RAF C17 Globemaster transport (to be confirmed).

For those seeking a unique perspective, Northumbrian Helicopters will offer Pleasure Flights from the showground, providing bird’s eye views of the airfield and Oxford City outskirts. There’s plenty of ground-based fun too with plenty of entertainment for all the family. This year there’s a real mix of fun, including The Radio Days Big Band, Rescue Husky dogs, Radio Controlled Model Jets, farm animals, vintage fire engines, and…ferret racing.

There’s much more besides, and it should be a day filled with excitement and entertainment for all ages.

For more information and tickets visit the show’s site.


New year clothes swap in Abingdon

Round & About

abingdon

Bring along items you no longer wear & exchange them for something new to you!

New year, so how about a ‘new to you’ wardrobe? Let someone else love your unwanted clothes and take home some new ones for yourself.

The clothes swap on Friday, 2nd February, 7pm, Northcourt Centre, Northcourt Road OX14 1NS, is exactly what it says – bring items you don’t wear and swap them. It is the most sustainable way to update your wardrobe!

You can drop off up to 10 items of adult clothing (no children’s please) from 7pm and then relax to allow time to sort into size order and type for easy swapping before doors open officially at 7.30pm. See what takes your fancy, try it on, and take it home – it’s that easy.

Between 7-7.30pm, refreshments will be available to purchase and there will be stalls from local, sustainable businesses.

Please only bring freshly washed items in good condition. Ask yourself ‘would you give this to your best friend?’ – if the answer is yes, please bring it along!

Tickets just £5.

Also, if there’s any suitable workwear items still looking for a home, organisers willl take them to Smart Works Reading, a charity that provides women with the clothing, coaching and confidence they need to succeed in interviews and get the job. 10% of the profits will go to Smart Works, Reading.

All other left over items will be donated to local charity shops or kept for the next swap! More datils & to buy tickets, visit Clothes Swap!

Charlie Dore live on tour!

Round & About

abingdon

Celebrated singer-songwriter Charlie Dore will perform at Chequers Folk Club in Great Kingshill on 20th September and Abingdon’s Unicorn Theatre on 21st September as part of her biggest tour for five years.

Charlie Dore has penned hits for Tina Turner, Celine Dion, George Harrison, Lisa Stansfield & Jimmy Nail. On this tour she will perform songs from her own impressive and acclaimed back catalogue.

Known for her observations of human nature, exquisite sense of melody and impeccable storytelling, Charlie has always performed and released music on her own terms, earning cult-like status among fans new and old.

As ever, she will be joined by her multi-instrumentalist co-pilot Julian Littman of Steeleye Span.

“Applying ourselves to this longer Short Circuit tour also gives us ample opportunity to feature some of my lesser-known (but often secretly favourite) songs,” says Charlie. “It’s great to have the freedom to experiment and rework these songs and have them share the spotlight. I’m always excited to see what the response will be.

“So far, Short Circuit has taken us from Scotland to Somerset and it’s been gratifying to share the music we’ve discovered – there’s an exclusivity about it. We enjoy taking risks, and renewing the sets in this way feels like the perfect way to conclude our Short Circuit adventure.”

To book tickets and more details please visit Charlie Dore.

Traeger Fest at Millets Farm

Karen Neville

abingdon

Join in a free weekend of delicious food and fun in Abingdon

Tips and hacks
Recipe – Roasted Sheet Pan Salmon with Spring Veg and Pesto

With spring around the corner and gardens being spruced up for the warmer weather to come, Traeger – makers of world-leading premium wood pellet BBQ’s – are holding a Trager Fest Weekend, at Webbs of Millets Farm, Kingston Rd, Frilford, Abingdon OX13 5HB on 15th and 16th April.

There’s something for all foodie tastes at Traeger Fest. On the Saturday, Traeger will be showcasing Classic American themed food, including dishes such as delicious Smashed Burgers, Chicken Wings and Cookies.

Sunday’s theme will be traditional English Roast Dinner, including a range of tasty classics such Roast Pork with Roast Potatoes and Yorkshire Puddings – all cooked on Traeger grills.

BBQ lovers can pop along at any time, to experience music, delicious food, and Traeger’s famous wood pellet grills. A Traeger chef will be on hand all weekend to showcase the grills, share top grilling tips, and hand out delicious samples to try.

Everyone is welcome to come along and soak up the Traeger atmosphere and you might even pick up some lovely new plants for your garden whilst you are there!

Traeger tips, hacks and recipes – 2023

What’s your top trick for cleaning your grill?

• Clean little and often rather than letting it build up. Using a Traeger cleaning spray helps.
• Wipe it down while it’s still hot! It’s much easier to do than when it’s cold. If you don’t have a wooden Traeger scraper, a ball of tinfoil works really well. Do this either at the end of your cook or once you’ve preheated the BBQ.
• For the grill grate itself, grill brush to scrape away large pieces and then a half onion on a hot grill to sterilise and flavour. The acids in the onion will help lift the grease.

What’s your top BBQ cooking hack?

• Always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need! Worst case scenario, the food is done a little early. Wrap it up, put your oven on the lowest setting (usually around 60c) and keep it warm.
• No matter what happens with a cook, even if it goes wrong, it can more than likely be recused and still turned into something amazing.
• Re-season your food with the rub you have used to start with, it adds a big depth of flavour.
• To BBQ the juiciest chicken wings with the crispiest skin – cook them at two different temperatures. Start by smoking them low and slow to lock in the flavour, then half way through – turn up the temperature to crisp up the skin.
• Wrap an assembled burger in foil and put it back on the grill. Takes it to the next juiciest level!

What trends do you think will be big this year in BBQ?

• Cheaper/ different cuts of meat will feature heavily as people want better value for money with the cost of living crisis and want as much bang for their buck.
• Mexican food such as tacos and easy one pot recipes such as  Goulash or stews.
• Smoking food and cooking low and slow are going to be big trends this year. This method of cooking is definitely becoming more popular in the UK with dishes such as smoked pulled pork, ribs and wings.
• We see more and more foods getting ‘smashed’. It started with the avocado, then we had burgers last season… Now we can see smashed potatoes next
• We should start to see more plant based and gluten free products as health comes to the top agenda.
• Batch cooking will return and with the mindset of healthy meal planning and reducing food waste.

What’s your go-to veggie dish to cook on a BBQ?

• Moroccan vegetable tagine or buffalo spiced cauliflower steaks.
• Corn on the cob with any Italian hard cheese and chilli melted on top.
• Grill Hispi cabbage, then while still hot, drizzle a jalapeno or chipotle honey sauce, making sure it gets between the layers. Finish with crumbled feta and crispy onions.
• Smoked cream cheese is a great little snack when you have people round. Sprinkle some rub onto the cheese and then drizzle on some hot honey once it’s done. Break out the ritz crackers and boom, your finest smokey, cheesy sharing dish.
• A smoked, confit vegetable tart.
• Vegetable pockets. Mix together Carrots, peas, cauliflower and broccoli mix together in a white or cheesy sauce and wrap it all up in puff pastry.

What’s your go-to veggie or vegan dish to cook on a BBQ?

• Braised carrots in a stock that’s flavoured with everything you will find in pickle vinegar, then smoke then and serve them as ‘not dogs’.
• A tray bake is always a good one to do. Throw in some new potatoes with a load of veggies. Sprinkle some Traeger Veggie rub over the top and bake in the Traeger until everything’s lovely and soft.
• Some smoked confit tomatoes which make an incredible bruschetta or a fantastic brown sugar and cinnamon slow smoked butternut squash.

Why are pellets the best way to grill?

• Wood pellets are clean, efficient, cost effective, family friendly and they produce the most incredible clean smokey flavour.
• Pellets are the best way to grill as they enhance the flavour of whatever you are cooking, depending on which wood flavour you use. You get such a big punch of flavour even from a small number of pellets.
• Wood pellets give you all the smoke flavour you need, with none of the hassle. You don’t have to worry about fire management like other methods of grilling, which means you can put 100% of your focus on the food and have 1 less thing to stress about.

How to cook the perfect steak?

• Use the reverse sear method. Season your steak with Traeger coffee rub, set your Traeger to 110c and insert the built in probe or Meater probe. If you like a medium rare steak, once the internal temperature hits 46c, remove the steak from the grill.  Put the Traeger cast iron on the grate to heat up first, then add the steak and turn up the temperature as high as it goes. Sear each side for just a couple of minutes until you’ve hit 56c internal.
• Always use a good rub that’s made for the type of meat you are cooking. With Steak – use a beef rub.
• Use a steak that is at least a 1-inch thick and has the same thickness throughout, to ensure a uniform cook throughout the steak: Reverse Seared Ribeye Steaks Recipe – Traeger Grills
• Most importantly, let the meat rest, so any juices have come out before serving.

Ingredients

• 1 Thick cut steak (no less than 1″) of your choice
• Traeger Blackened Saskatchewan Rub
• Steak needs to acclimatise to room temperature, so allow it to rest out of the fridge for around 30 minutes. If you hit your steak with heat straight from the fridge, it will contract and seize up and you will have a tough piece of meat.

• Pat your steak dry with some kitchen roll and season liberally with traeger blackened Saskatchewan and leave it on the side for 30 minutes.
• Set your traeger for 100 degrees c using Traeger Signature pellets where possible.
• Place your meat probe into the thickest part of your steak, making sure you avoid any fat as this will increase your temperatures.
• Grill on both sides as you prefer.

How important is it marinade meat or fish before you BBQ?

• It’s important for a few reasons. A marinade will add flavour, help tenderise the meat and lock in important juices. Try adding marinade or re-season while the meat or fish is resting to add even more flavour.
• Don’t overpower with too much rub or marinade, so that the star of the show doesn’t lose its identity.

What would be the perfect dish to create on your grill to celebrate the King’s Coronation?

• Coronation roasted rack of lamb with an asian style marinade served with roasted potatoes and green salad.
• Probably a suckling pig, with smoked apple sauce, red cabbage, beer gravy, loads of roasted veg and roasted potatoes!
• A coronation Chicken burger! A classic BBQ food, with a coronation twist. Who doesn’t love a good burger?
• King Charles is a very keen farmer so perhaps a classic roast beef with all the trimmings, championing the UK produce would be the best BBQ meal, fit for a king!

Roasted Sheet Pan Salmon with Spring Veg and Pesto

Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 12 mins | Serves: 4

The beauty of this recipe is that it all cooks together in 10-12 minutes! Salmon is such a crowd-pleaser on the grill and is a perfect match for these spring vegetables with pesto. But how often do we focus on crispy salmon skin? This recipe cooks the salmon with the skin side up for a beautiful presentation for those who love the skin. And if you don’t care for it? No worries! Cook it skin-side down and it will still be beautiful.

Ingredients

• 4 Salmon pieces (100g), skin on, pin bones removed
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• Rock salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 16 fresh asparagus spears, sliced into 2.5cm pieces
• 180g cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved
• 300g sugar snap peas
• 1 1/2 lemons halved
• 85g fresh pesto
• 2/3 lemon, zested
• Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Steps

1. When ready to cook, set the temperature to high and preheat, lid closed for 15 minutes.

2. Rinse the salmon and pat dry with paper towel. Brush all sides of the salmon with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and sprinkle generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper on all sides. Place the salmon pieces skin-side up on the sheet tray (or down if preferred) leaving 2 inches between each piece.

3. Place the asparagus, sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes in a bowl. Gently mix the vegetables with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a fresh grinding of pepper. Scatter the vegetables evenly onto the sheet pan.

4. Place the sheet pan on the grill. In addition, place the lemons cut-side down directly on the grill grate towards the front of the grill. Close the lid and cook for 5 minutes at 80°C

5. After 5 minutes, remove the lemons from the grill and stir the vegetables. Close the lid and cook for 5 more minutes, or until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 60°C and can be flaked with a fork.

6. Remove the sheet pan from the grill. Place the fish and vegetables on a serving platter and drizzle with the pesto. Sprinkle the lemon zest over the top of the fish and vegetables and add a few basil leaves for garnish. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Church in Abingdon: Christmas Services

Round & About

abingdon

Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas at a service in one of Abingdon’s churches

The Church in Abingdon has several venues at which you can enjoy a traditional service or carol concert this month, details here and more at www.church-in-abingdon.org.uk.

Abingdon Baptist Church

Ock Street, OX14 5AG

Sunday 11th December, 6:30pm – Carols by candlelight

Sunday 18th December, 10:30am – Nativity service with special guest ‘Donkey’

Saturday 24th December, 11:30pm – Christmas Communion

Sunday 25th December, 10am – Christmas Day family celebration

Abingdon Community Church

Thameside Primary School, Cotman Close, OX14 5NL

Sunday 18th December, 10:30am – All-age family service

Sunday 25th December, 10:30am – Christmas Day service

Abingdon Vineyard Church

Preston Road Community Centre, Midget Close, OX14 5NR

Sunday 11th December, 10:30am – Christmas Café with family Christmas craft activities

Sunday 18th December, 10:30am – Family Christmas celebration with Carols and Nativity

Sunday 25th December, 10:30am – Christmas Day Celebration

All Saints Church

Appleford Drive, OX14 2AQ

Sunday 18th December, 3:30pm – Candlelit Carol service

Sunday 25th December, 10am – Christmas Day service

Christ Church

Northcourt Road (NR), OX14 1PL/ Long Furlong (LF), Boulter Drive, OX14 1XP

Wednesday 14th December, 10am – LINK Toddler Nativity, NR

Saturday 17th December, TBC – Christmas Giveaway, LF Community Centre

Sunday 18th December, 10:30am – Indoor Carol Service, NR

6pm – Carols in the car park, NR

Saturday 24th December, 3pm – Christingle service, NR

4pm – Christingle service, LF School

4:30pm – Christingle service, NR

11pm – Midnight Communion, NR

Sunday 25th December, 10am – Christmas Day family service, NR

10am – Christmas Day family service, LF School

Sunday 1st January, 10:30am – Christ Church Together New Year’s Day service, NR

Our Lady and St Edmund’s Church

Radley Road, OX14 3PL

Saturday 24th December, 6pm – First Mass

8.30pm – Carols

9pm – Mass

Sunday 25th December 8.45am – Mass

10.15am – Mass

12 noon – Mass

Monday 26th December, 10am – St Stephen’s Mass

Peachcroft Christian Centre

Lindsay Drive, OX14 2RT

Sunday 18th December, 10am – Nativity for all

7pm – Carol service

Saturday 24th December, 3pm – Christingle service

5pm – Christingle service

Sunday 25th December, 10am – Christmas celebration

Quakers, Abingdon Community Support Centre

Audlett Drive, OX14 3UW

Sunday 18th December 10.15am – Christmas meeting including all-age worship

Salvation Army

West St Helen Street, OX14 5BL

Sunday 18th December, 4pm – Candlelit Carol service

Wednesday 21st December, 10:30am – Community Carol service

St Helen’s Church

West St Helen Street, OX14 5BS

Friday 23rd December, 6:30pm – Christmas Lessons and carols

Saturday 24th December, 4pm – Christingle

10.30pm – First Eucharist of Christmas

Sunday 25th December, 8am – Holy Communion

10:30am – Sung Eucharist with all-age address

St Michael’s Church

Park Road, OX14 1DS

Saturday 24th December, 3pm – Crib service

6pm – Christmas Lessons and Carols

Sunday 25th December, 10am – Sung Mass for Christmas Day

St Nicolas’ Church

Market Place, OX14 3JD

Sunday 18th December, 6pm – Christmas Lessons and Carols

Saturday 24th December, 4pm – Crib service

Sunday 25th December, 10am – Holy Communion for Christmas Day

Trinity Church

Conduit Road, OX14 1DB

Sunday 18th December, 4:30pm – Carol service

Saturday 24th December, 4:30pm – Christingle service

Sunday 25th December, 10am – Christmas morning service

Twin towns charity music concert

Round & About

abingdon

The Amey Theatre, Abingdon, is holding a spectacular concert on October 7th to be live streamed supporting local charities

The Abingdon and District Twin Towns Society is holding a twin towns music concert in Abingdon’s Amey Theatre on Friday, 7th October.

This concert will also be live streamed over the internet to an audience in the twin towns of Lucca in Italy, Schongau in Germany, Colmar and Argentan in France, Sint-Niklaas in Belgium, Abingdon in Virginia, USA, and Thame in New Zealand.

The proceeds of the concert will support local charities, including the Ukraine, and for the mental health of young people in Abingdon.
The concert runs from 6.30pm to around 8.30pm and there will be an interval of around 20 minutes for you to get refreshments in the foyer bar.

Abingdon and District Twin Towns Society promotes sporting and cultural links between Abingdon and its twin towns.

The concert will include both classical and light music showcasing the rich musical talent that Abingdon and district has to offer, and includes performers, such as Abingdon Operatic Society, Abingdon Concert Band, Abingdon Town Band and performers from local schools, including Abingdon School, Larkmead School, Our Lady’s Abingdon, Radley College, and St. Helen and St. Katharine. In other words, this concert will have something for everybody.

Why not get a group together to come to the concert? We look forward to seeing you there!

Abingdon and District Twin Towns Society promotes sporting and cultural links between Abingdon and its twin towns.

Find out more

The very reasonably priced tickets are available online from the Amey Theatre – www.ameytheatre.co.uk and cost £10 each, with concession tickets at £5, and £20 for a family of four.

New theatre company Moonhawk stage Frankenstein

Karen Neville

abingdon

Abingdon’s Unicorn Theatre is the stage for inaugural production 

Catch new theatre company Moonhawk in action from Wednesday, 30th March until Saturday, 2nd April when they’ll be performing a new version of a classic tale. 

The fledgling company will be staging Nick Dear’s version of Frankenstein based on the Mary Shelley original at the Unicorn Theatre full of all the Gothic and romantic elements that have made this tale popular still more than 200 years later. 

Victor Frankenstein (Nick Kovari) constructs a creature from recovered body parts. When his creation comes to life he runs away in horror and abandons it. The creature wanders across Europe, trying to escape violence and hunger. When he is taught to read and write by a blind teacher he learns about his creator and begins a new journey to find Frankenstein and to get answers. 

This is the first production from Moonhawk who will perform a wide range of plays, old and new and welcome anyone and everyone with an interest in all aspects of theatre production, either on stage or behind the scenes. The new theatre company has been created to give opportunities to actors and technicians of all ages with the aim of supporting those wanting to go to drama school. 

Moonhawk founder Leon Witcomb said: “I caught the drama bug over 10 years ago and have been acting, directing and stage managing ever since. More recently I’ve entered the world of producing, hence Moonhawk Productions.  

“We’re based in Abingdon-on-Thames and we use several locations to put on our diverse types of 

drama. We operate an “open door” policy meaning that anyone can be part of Moonhawk – on stage, back stage, production and front of house.” 

Leon added: “My mentor and the catalyst for my drama career is my old drama class teacher, Andrea Mardon. She taught me from a very early age and directed me in many shows and inspired me to take acting and producing seriously. Thanks Andrea! 

“Moonhawk have some really amazing plays, as they say in politics – shovel ready and raring to go! Watch this space!” 

Tickets £10, age 14 & upwards on the door or from www.wegottickets.com/moonhawk

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Where’s Brian’s Bottom? asks Abingdon illustrator

Liz Nicholls

abingdon

Local illustrator Rob Jones always wanted to create a children’s book and, in Where’s Brian’s Bottom? the dream has unfolded!

“I’ve always loved dogs, especially sausage dogs,” says Rob, who lives in Abingdon, “but sadly I’ve never owned one. I’m hoping one day I’ll have one called Brian!”

Where’s Brian’s Bottom? is Rob’s new board book for toddlers that unfolds to two metres long. Young readers are encouraged to help Brian find his bottom in the house and learn about different animals and the sounds they make.

“I didn’t used to draw dogs that often,” adds Rob, “until I illustrated The Funny Life of Pets by James Campbell. I find I draw them all the time now. Anytime I sign a card or book, there will usually be a doodle of a dog.”

Rob studied illustration at the University of Gloucestershire and it was during this time that he discovered a love for making books, toys and puppets. He has made many puppets for the Story Museum’s Christmas production in Oxford. His first book, Bernard, won the People’s Book Prize in 2014. “I owe a lot to the Story Museum,” says Rob. “They were really supportive of me when my first book Bernard was released.

I once took part in an exhibition there called “the illustrator zoo” where visitors could watch me work on book ideas. I’ve made puppets for four of their shows, the first being Winter Mouse, which was made using a sleeve from an old jumper. I’m looking forward to taking my son there once it reopens.

“My advice to any budding illustrators out there is not to give up! There have been many times over the last 10 years when I’ve been close, but something has always happened to keep me going. I am also very lucky, as my family, friends and colleagues are all so supportive of me.”

Where’s Brian’s Bottom? £6.99, ISBN 9781843654667


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