Scents of summer

Round & About


Artist Helen Grimbleby shares her love of nature in her monthly Nature Sketchbook

“Spring flew swiftly by, and summer came; and if the village had been beautiful at first, it was now in the full grow and luxuriance of its richness.” Charles Dickens

Summer is the season when our senses may easily delight in the natural world and the fairer weather means the opportunities to engage directly with nature are greater.

The wind of blustery seaside cliff tops is kinder and more inviting when it is warmer and drier. Its gentler brush on bare arms may even be welcome on hot summer days. Pink sea thrift flowers break up the wild expanses of rocky coastal scenes dominated at other times by blues, greens and greys. Such rocky coastal locations can also be home to puffin colonies who at this time of year are kept busy feeding their single chick broods.

Puffins can be found on the mainland in the very North of Scotland and also at Bempton in Yorkshire. Most are found on small islands such as Skomer (Wales) and the Farne Islands (Northumberland).

Badger cubs are actively playful now and I am so very hopeful to see some this year. I plan a few night-time hikes for this purpose. This brings excitement and a hint of trepidation in equal measure as the familiarity of darkness and shadows was left behind in the long-ago winter months.

After re-reading Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows in late spring, I was longing to see a badger in the wild, something I had never seen before. A short while later, I was slightly lost making my way back to a campsite in Wales after a friend’s birthday party. Having gone off track, driving up a high-hedged narrow single track, steep mountain road in the Black Mountains, I was focused on fretting about meeting a vehicle coming the other way. Then, turning a corner, I found myself face to face with a badger. Only momentarily perturbed by the road blockage cause by my car, it set off making its way through the embankment hedge, its slightly brownish, warm black coloured body perfectly camouflaged, wearing an intelligent expression set on a moon river face. What a joy!

I am assured of the scents of summer on my night-time walks with honeysuckle, wild rose, elderflower and pyramid orchids all in June bloom and my jaunts may be accompanied by an orchestra of grasshopper making their reedy music as I go. Will you walk with me grasshopper?

Helen Grimbleby is a West Berks/North Hants based artist who is inspired by the natural world’s changing seasons. After exploring outside, she enjoys writing, illustrating and painting larger landscapes at her home studio (@helengrimblebyart).

The Garden Show at Stansted Park

Round & About


Discover plants, garden and home accessories, art, design, sculpture, fashion, gifts and tempting foods and wine and more

The Garden Show is back to celebrate the 30th and the last at Stansted Park from June 7th to 9th.

Thirty years ago the first garden show at Stansted Park in Hampshire was created as a forum for the smaller family fun businesses and to showcase the work of talented artisans particularly those who couldn’t afford the larger, more commercial shows.

It’s a great opportunity to explore what’s on the doorstep; source new talent, designers and artisans. Browse affordable and handpicked companies showcasing the latest specialist plants, garden and home accessories, art, design, sculpture, fashion, gifts and then treat your taste buds to tempting foods and wines.

Pick up top tips from horticultural experts to solve those frustrating problems – as ever the specialist plantspeople will bring their knowledge and brilliant advice plus we have daily expert advice from The Gardening Doctor, Paul Slater, who will also be giving a Talk on Friday on ‘Plant Selection’. Also on Friday the show is joined by Dr Ian Bedford, entomologist, with The Pest Clinic to help solve any bug issues in as friendly a way as possible. On Saturday there is a Q&A Session on ‘Empowering Communities into Horticulture’ with Tayshan Hayden-Smith. Ben Cross from Crosslands Flower Nursery will also be back on the Sunday to extol, in his usual energetic way, on the ‘British Cut Flower Industry’… ‘British Flowers Rock’!

The Show’s chosen charity is CancerWise – – aspiring to be an enabling, compassionate community for people with cancer and those who care for them. Based in Chichester, offering support and information to anyone who is concerned about cancer. Through counselling, complementary therapies or emotional care, providing support to the mind, body, spirit and emotional health of people through and beyond cancer. They will be holding ‘A Giant Tombola’, prizes donated by the Garden Show Exhibitors, along with some fete fun games.

In memory of one of the original founders of the show, Lizzie Dymock, Tawny Nursery will be selling beautiful poppies in aid on CancerWise.

It’s not all about gardening with ongoing demonstrations including willow weaving, forging along with traditional chairs, broom, trug and fence making plus The Studio Shop artisans demonstrating and sharing their expertise on jewellery design, painting, photography, embroidery, felt making, woodwork along with so much more. Plus the opportunity to join in one of the Blacksmith Workshops and create a leaf to hang on The Tree of Life in aid of CancerWise.

There is plenty to engage your children & indeed the whole family: watch children play in the beautiful parklands, ride on the toddler fun fair with Carousel Amusements, watch Huxley Birds of Prey soar through the skies, learn circus skills with Crazee Hazee and enjoy the daily Punch & Judy shows as well as ‘have-a-go-archery’ with The Queens Archers.

Next year the show moves to Broadlands from June 6th to 8th.

Ticket prices on the gate: Adult £14. Senior £12. Child £5 (Age 5-16yrs. Under 5yrs free). Family £35 (inc 2A & 4C). Prebook and save 15%.

More details and booking at The Garden Shows

The Nature Sketchbook: March

Round & About


Artist Helen Grimbleby shares her love of the natural world through her work in a monthly series of observations

March many weathers is here. Although, the first month of meteorological spring, March is such an unresolved month, sometimes clinging on to freezing conditions and snow, unsure whether or when to allow the slow warm fingers of spring to get a hold.

It is nevertheless a joyful month with spring flowers ignoring the meteorological hesitancy, harnessing the sunshine to bring us verges of yellow primroses, cowslips, celandines, dandelions and narcissi/daffodils.

Where there are flowers, there are usually butterflies. In March we begin to see them emerge and arrive. Red admiral butterflies typically migrated from North Africa and were seen from spring onwards. In 2023, there was a 400% increase in their UK population. Experts suggest this may be due to the species now overwintering here rather than migrating due to warmer temperatures resulting from climate change.

Many of our early spring flowers are yellow as early pollinators, mainly insects, are attracted to the colour which appears as ultra-violet blue to them.

And it is attraction which brings us to the final association with March, and idiomatic mad hares. I have seen hares in West Berkshire but not engaged in the boxing behaviour which inspired the phrase. This is a tale of unrequited ardour with male buck hares pursuing female doe hares in the hope of mating and then, it seems, taking it too far. The unimpressed doe will demonstrate her lack of interest in dramatic fashion by turning on the buck and thumping him, initiating the boxing when fur may fly!

Helen Grimbleby is a West Berks/North Hants based artist who is inspired by the natural world’s changing seasons. After exploring outside, she enjoys writing and illustrating her Nature Sketchbook and painting larger landscapes at her home studio (@burbleartstudios).

Varvara Neiman Exhibition and Event

Round & About


Elgiva Theatre hosts an exhibition and a “meet the artist” event in March

A solo exhibition featuring local artist Varvara Neiman began at the Elgiva Theatre in Chesham on Saturday and will run until the 1st April.  Power Of Colour In Light is open to the public from 10.30 am – 3.00 pm daily, except Sundays. There is no cost to enter during these times.

Varvara obtained her MA in Fine Art at the Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg in 1996. Subsequently she worked in several local theatres specialising costume and set design.

Following a move to the UK in 1999 Varvara concentrated on her career as a professional artist, staging exhibitions in Suffolk, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and London. She now has a studio in Beaconsfield and is a member of both the Bucks Art Society and “HP9”, a group of local artists.

Varvara is also an art educator and teaches for artsmart School of Art and Buckinghamshire Adult Learning. She is currently teaching Life Drawing and her key subjects also include Portraiture, Water Colour, Oils and Acrylics.

At this solo exhibition Varvara is showing two of her favourite subjects, Portraiture and Landscape.

“I have always drawn people from a very early age and am passionate about creating a character either from life or from photos when undertaking commissions,” she says. “These can be celebratory surprises or simply commemorative. My favourite portrait artist is Rembrandt from whom I am always learning that a portrait of a person is all about their eyes which are a mirror of their soul.”

Varvara is very enthusiastic about painting en Plein Air and passionate about Cezanne’s famous quote: “Painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realizing one’s sensation…”

“For me whether it is a watercolour technique or painting in oils or acrylics it is about the power of light reflecting in a prism of a kaleidoscope of colours,” she says.

Varvara will also be showcasing her watercolour technique on Saturday 16th March when the is a chance to meet the artist at the Elgiva. The event starts at 1pm, and will explore Varvara’s artistic journey and inspiration and she will discuss her work in depth.

Sussex Showcase book by Peter Beckingham

Liz Nicholls


Peter’s beautiful new book, a follow-up to South Downs Showcase is out now, with proceeds to The Motor Neurone Association’s West Sussex branch

Sussex Showcase: 2000 Years of Great Art from Bignor to Brighton by Peter, who lives in Lodsworth, was launched at the recent Petworth Literary Festival.

Covering a bigger canvas, the book features more than 2000 years of art in Sussex, ranging from the beautifully preserved mosaics of Bignor and Fishbourne and world-class medieval frescoes in tiny South Downs churches, to the end of the 20th century and the colourful paintings of Charleston-based artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

Sussex Showcase takes the reader on a visual feast of a journey to see how Sussex has been depicted through many centuries, including by such English Masters as Constable and Turner, as well as famous 20th century painters such as Paul Nash and Eric Ravilious. It also shows how destinations like Brighton, Chichester and Rye have become a beacon for artists, as well as more rural locations like Ditchling. Covering Sussex’s most famous artists, and iconic landmarks from the Downs to Beachy Head and Brighton Pier, the book investigates how the County has made such an impact on art in Britain.

It includes a foreword by The Duke of Richmond from Goodwood House, who comments “how incredibly inspiring the Sussex landscape has been, and remains, for artists”, Sussex Showcase includes over 50 high quality illustrations, some of which are rarely seen and have been generously loaned from privately-owned collections. Describing the publication, author Peter Beckingham said that “its purpose is unashamedly simple and celebratory – a book which can be enjoyed by all tourists and residents of Sussex with an interest in the county’s rich artistic history.”

Peter Beckingham is a former diplomat whose positions included Deputy High Commissioner to India, Ambassador to the Philippines and Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands. He now gives talks on Cunard’s QE2 and Queen Mary and is donating the profits from this book to The Motor Neurone Association’s West Sussex branch. Jonathan Newdick, a book designer with an international reputation, has once again designed this new publication, produced in association with Lodsworth’s Heritage Society.

The book is priced at £16.99 (postage and packing £3.50) as well as selected bookshops in Chichester, Midhurst, Brighton, Arundel, Steyning, Rye and Eastbourne. Email [email protected] or call 01798 342082 for more details on how to order.

Call for Wittenham Clumps artists

Round & About


The Earth Trust will welcome you on 13th November artists inspired to use nature to ignite passion for people and planet!

Wittenham Clumps, a source of creative inspiration for centuries, is set to ignite the passion of artists once again with the announcement by environmental charity Earth Trust of an exciting new Artist in Residence programme.

Earth Trust is committed to championing access to and engagement with natural green spaces, and is celebrating the role art can play in deepening our understanding of and connection to the natural world. The initiative aims to harness the transformative power of artistic expression to inspire people to address climate change, biodiversity and wellbeing through meaningful interactions with nature.
Renowned artists such as Paul Nash have long drawn inspiration from the beauty of Wittenham Clumps, producing a diverse range of artworks that reflect their experiences of this historic landscape.
“We’re aiming to ignite a sense of appreciation and understanding of the environment through art,” said Anna Wilson, Head of Experience & Engagement at Earth Trust. “We are excited to be welcoming a new artist who will interact with visitors and create works inspired by our mission and the green spaces of the Wittenham Clumps.”

Earth Trust’s Artist in Residence programme recognises art’s ability to forge renewed bonds between people and the planet, harnessing creativity and wonder to inspire us to build a future where both can flourish.
Once in place, the artist will engage visitors through open studios, talks and interactive activities, lead public workshops inviting participation in the creative process and produce a substantial artwork as a lasting legacy to inspire reflection. Artists working in any medium or style are invited to respond to the brief, and Earth Trust welcomes applications from artists at all stages of their artistic careers. The charity is particularly keen to hear from artists who champion inclusivity and appeal to diverse audiences.
Earth Trust is hosting an open morning event on Monday 13th November where interested artists can tour Earth Trust’s stunning green spaces and learn more about the residency. For more details, please visit Applications close on Sunday 19th November.

Win! Quentin Blake rare illustration print

Round & About


Only entries from within our circulation areas will be accepted

Please don’t enter if you are not in a Round & About Magazine postcode region
One entry per householder. You must supply a name, address and telephone number
or your entry will not be accepted

One lucky winner can win a limited edition Quentin Blake / Roald Dahl print of Nine Hundred and Seventy-four, worth £109 from The Art Of Illustration.

The Art Of Illustration sells limited edition prints by fine illustration artists across the UK, the USA and worldwide. 

Featured artists include Sir Quentin Blake, Shirley Hughes, Ronald Searle, Chris Wormell, and many more.  

We’ve teamed up woth Julian at The Art Of Illustration to offer one lucky winner a limited edition print, mounted and cellophane-wrapped by Quentin Blake / Roald Dahl – “Nine Hundred and Seventy-four”, worth £109.

To enter our prize draw, fill in the form below before 12pm on Friday 24th November 2023.

Your Name

Your Address

Your Email*


How did you find us?

Would you like to opt in and receive marketing communications from our competition supplier? If yes, how?

Sign up to our newsletter

Festival of the moon in Newbury

Round & About


Image: Museum of the Moon by Luke Jerram. University of Bristol, UK, 2017. Photo (c) Carolyn Eaton

Newbury BID welcomes you to enjoy the festival of the moon for three weeks of moon-related events!

Newbury Business Improvement District (BID) are holding a three-week festival between 15th August and 2nd September with over 100 unique events! With such a large number of events there is something perfect for everyone.

The centre of the festival is the globally renowned museum of the moon, where a seven metre, lifelike installation of the moon’s surface is displayed, created by artist, Luke Jerram and captured through NASA images. Accompanied by a beautiful soundscape composed by BAFTA-winner Dan Jones, you will feel as if you are transported straight to the lunar realm.

However, the excitement does not end there, as there are plenty more events taking place. Feel soothed by the moon-themed wellness sessions, engaged by films and interactive storytelling or compelled by talks that will leave you thinking. With a grand number of events, it is easy to spend multiple days at the festival. Especially exciting events, to name a few, include an outdoor cinema, paddleboarding and live music! For the younger ones, and adults too, there are some free arts and crafts to try your hand at.

Operations manager, Alison Drummond, at Newbury BID expresses how the ‘lively community and commitment to arts and culture shine through in these events’, and encourages you to come and join in.

“lively community and commitment to arts and culture shine through in these events.”

When attending, entry to the museum of the moon is complementary, with a range of time slots available, including evening sessions for a beautiful night-time lunar experience.

For more information, please visit Visit Newbury.

To book, please visit Corn Exchange Newbury.

Author: Daisy Harwood

Pet art wins Queen Camilla’s approval

Round & About


Self-taught artist Alison Molan was thrilled to receive a letter from Her Majesty after sending her a quirky pup portrait

A letter of appreciation for her artwork from Her Majesty Queen Camilla was not something Farnham based artist, Alison, would have believed possible when setting up her business, Pup Goes The Easel last summer.

Alison tells us: “I recently sent one of my coronation-themed, Charlie cards and tea towels to Queen Camilla because I thought it would be fun to know that something from Farnham was being used at Highgrove House, Clarence House or even Buckingham Palace! The letter of thanks and praise from Her Majesty for my work was a real surprise and such a boost for my business.”

“The letter of thanks and praise from Her Majesty for my work was a real surprise”

Alison is a self-taught artist, who, in mid-life founded an exciting new creative business. She produces distinctive greeting cards, prints, tote bags and tea towels from her fun and vibrant paintings of pups. Her business was inspired by her family pet, a rescued Lurcher called Parker. “He was the sweetest pup and brought joy to our lives” says Alison. Having previously only painted her family’s pets, her family encouraged her to take what was “just a hobby” to the next level. So, she painted more pups (family and friends’ dogs were her muses) and, with a huge leap of faith, set up her small business.

Since last summer Alison has successfully sourced UK based, suppliers who ensure her products are of the highest quality and are sustainably made. She has sold her unique images as high-quality cards, prints and gifts through local and London markets and through her Etsy store. “Meeting customers and seeing their positive reactions to my artwork has been very uplifting”. Alison has sold her products locally at the Farnham Maltings Monthly Market and Esty Guildford. In London she has had success at the Crafty Fox Market the De Beauvoir Christmas Trail and the BBH International Women’s Day Market. “I look forward to attending other events in the future including Curated at the Dorking Halls and at Denbies Wine Estate as well as more markets in Farnham, Alton and Guildford.”

Setting up a creative business in mid-life has brought many challenges but it has also been exciting and inspiring. “I have thoroughly enjoyed creating products from my images that capture the essence and personality of a pup and love seeing customers interact with them.

“You can imagine how absolutely thrilled I was to get this fabulous letter from her and chuffed to bits that she likes my artwork. It has given me a real boost and I thought it was lovely of her to take the time of respond when she must have a million and one more pressing things to deal with at the moment!”

Alison’s next step is to collaborate with retailers so that she can reach a wider audience. Watch this space – who knows, Pup Goes The Easel may soon be ‘By Royal Appointment”!

Alison’s work can be found on her Etsy store PupGoesTheEasel – Etsy UK and she can be contacted through Instagram Pup Goes The Easel 🐾🐶.

Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition at Tate Modern

Liz Nicholls


Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms show at Tate Modern has been extended until April. Liz Nicholls steps inside

Who doesn’t want to be fired up with The Brilliance Of Life?

I’ve followed many an avenue in quest of this. And Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms at the Tate Modern have been lighting up various social media feeds in my orbit all summer.

The installations (originally made for Kusama’s 2012 retrospective at Tate Modern) have proved so popular with visitors that the run has been extended until next spring.

A trip to Tate Modern, and the buzzing South Bank, is always a delight, and this celebration of the stellar Japanese artist, now aged 93, provides a trippy treat for the senses.

Kusama, who has been affected by hallucinations for much of her life, makes art that tries to show things “only the mind can see”, and it’s a fabulous way to highlight awareness of mental health.

A trippy treat for the senses

Seen from the outside, the space occupied by the two installations is tiny, which tickles your sense of time and space. Houses in a hexagonal unit the size of a parking space, stepping inside Chandelier of Grief is a discombobulating experience, fizzing and popping a boundless universe of rotating crystal chandeliers that threaten to smash and splinter.

Meanwhile, the watery walkway through the boxed Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life seems to offer a sense of limitless serenity. Each visit is two minutes (time enough to grab that obligatory selfie) and I recommend making a return trip in and through, for a different experience, on another level (ie sitting down, or taking a different angle).

Small yet perfectly formed on the outside, the light fantastic space offers a rare chance to step inside the mind of one of the world’s most iconic living contemporary artists. This has been one of the hottest tickets in town this summer, and doesn’t disappoint, offering an all-encompassing sense of wonder and freedom.

Find out more

For furthe details, see The Tate’s website