The heat is on as schoolboy James learns firemaking

JAMES Halls is now proficient in building a fire big enough to cook a pancake on after a bushcraft day in Blackbird Leys.

James, nine, went to the Sunday session at Spindleberry Nature Reserve with mum Laura, sister Lucy, eight, and brothers Keane, seven, and one-year-old Dawson.

Freelance bushcraft teacher Louise Rickard showed her 12 pupils how to light a fire, how to feed it, and then proved how hot it was by making pancakes on it.

Mrs Halls, 28, said: “I thought it was really good.

“I assumed they’d get pancakes out of a packet, but they got all the ingredients and made them.

“I tried one and they were actually really tasty with grated cheese on top. It was a really nice day.”

Mrs Halls said she and husband David had recently moved the family to Blackbird Leys from Shepherds Bush in London, and was pleased to discover the project.

She said: “The children really enjoyed collecting the sticks and making the fire.

“I think it is a really good thing to get children and parents in the community all involved. We just moved here so we didn’t know what was on, but when we were at the Leys Festival on Saturday we were given a leaflet and I’m pleased we went along.” The course was run by The Conservation Volunteers.

Dr Rickard said: “It’s a really exciting project for Blackbird Leys.”

Crowds step back in time to revel in Tudor craftsmanship

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EDWARD Marsh bowled over visitors at the Wychwood Forest Fair on Sunday with a display of Tudor-era craftsmanship at Cornbury Park, Charlbury.

Fifty-eight-year-old Mr Marsh, from Oxford, said: “It was a great event, I always enjoy it.

“Really nice families and people come to it and there was a fanastic variety of stuff going on.”

Mr Marsh has been bowl-turning for six years, after taking it up so he could bring a new skill to a show at Kentwell Hall, Suffolk.

He said: “I went off to find out more about it and built the lathe over one weekend.

“It is made from a painting of a Viking lathe because technology didn’t change much between Viking times and the Tudor period.

“I would say anybody can pick up bowl turning.

“One visitor who came had been inspired last year and she came yesterday to ask me about things she didn’t understand, like how to sharpen the tools she had bought and how green the wood needs to be.

“To be useful a bowl really needs to be seven inches in diameter and two and three-quarter inches deep.

“If you have a platter that is about nine inches that means you can have your pottage in a bowl and plate on top to keep it warm while you walk.”

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  • And Tony Merry of the Wychwayz Boarder Morris salutes the crowd at Wychwood Forest Fair 

Air brush heroes paint the school of rock

YOUNGSTERS in Witney will soon have somewhere they can rock on.

The new home of the World School of Rock in Witney’s High Street was christened this weekend by two local artists who created a graffiti wall.

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  • Artist David Ranson makes a colourful statement at the World School of Rock

The colourful wall was created with the help of artists Jojo Roccia-Jones and David Ranson.

Formerly known as the Witchwood School of Rock, the Oxfordshire music school was set up in 2009 to inspire people aged between six and 18 to learn how to play a musical instrument.

About 130 children attend the school – which also has bases in Shipton-under-Wychwood and New Yatt – every week.

Witney resident Lisa Ward, whose 12-year-old son Hector Fischer-Bartlett attends the school, said: “It gives him a passion in life.

“The support they receive is wonderful. Hector has really blossomed by getting on stage and writing his own music.

“It gives confidence and expands their horizons.”

He doesn't ruffle my feathers

PHYLLIS Owen had never held an owl before, but it didn’t ruffle her feathers when she tried it.

The bird of prey and its handler visited Freeland House care home near Long Hanborough as part of an Olde English garden party on Saturday.

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  • Mrs Owen from Long Hanborough

Mrs Owen, 90, from Long Hanborough, said: “I enjoyed it, the owl was beautiful and no trouble at all.

“We looked at each other, and he was quite happy.”

Mrs Owen, who used to work as secretary of Lincoln College, Oxford, also had a horse and carriage ride in the morning.

She said: “There were carriage rides and all sorts of stalls and things to eat and drink, I thought it was a rather modern idea actually.”

Residents and their relatives also had a few games of Aunt Sally, while younger relatives enjoyed Punch and Judy.

During the event Dawn Collicutt completed the ice-bucket challenge.

The home, run by Minster Care Group, cares for up to 68 residents.

Show is a bloomin’ delight

FLOWER fanciers had their senses tickled at Grove Horticultural Society’s summer show.

Gardeners brought their finest flowers, biggest vegetables and prickliest cacti to be in with a chance of a blue ribbon.

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  • Showgoers captivated by the dahlias

Barry Hornblow, 72, from Grove, said he was pleased to win first prize for his cactus, second prize for his scones and third place for his coffee cake – in different competitions.

Mr Hornblow, who has about 100 cacti at his Cherry Tree Close home, said: “They’re lovely when they’re all in flower.”

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  • Barry Hornblow

Although he is not a member of the Grove Horticultural Society, he said he often goes to functions. He added: “I like the shows, it was lovely on Saturday.”

He said several hundred people stopped by while he was there.

The show was held at Grove’s Old Mill Hall on Saturday from 2pm.

Liz and Colin grow for it with best plot

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  • Liz and Colin Franklin with their runners and trophy

LIZ and Colin Franklin said they were “shocked and very happy” to be told they had the best plot at Wildmoor Allotments.

The couple, from Abingdon, were presented their prize by town Mayor Angela Lawrence at the annual Wildmoor prize giving on Sunday.

Tenants of the 135 plots north of Abingdon also got to catch-up and make new gardening friends with an afternoon barbecue.

Wildmoor chairman Alex Armstrong said: “It went very well. We had a good turn out and good weather which helps.”