No good news on Empire House

It has been rumoured that Sainsburys is negotiating with the owners of the Empire House block and row of empty shops opposite Turnham Green, with a view to extending their site to give it shop frontage on the High Rd. Sainsburys have confirmed to me that they have not been talking to Australian developers Lendlease and all Lendlease will say is that the future of the site is ‘under review’.

Your support needed for a ‘living wall’

Parents at St Mary’s RC primary school in Duke Rd are trying to do something to improve the air quality for the children who go to the school.

Their problem is that the wall of their playground runs along the side of the A4 and earlier this year they were found to be one of 50 schools with the most polluted air in London. The idea of the ‘living wall’ is that it would absorb some of the toxins from the air.

Andrea Carnevali heard about the Mayor of London’s initiative to match fundraising by local communities for projects which improve their area and is now in a battle against time to reach the required threshold of support to attract mayoral funding. They have two weeks before the deadline to show that they have sufficient local support for the project.

The ‘living wall’ has support from all political parties in the area: Green Party, Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat; Labour MP Ruth Cadbury has also raised the issue of air quality at the school in parliament.

The target is £70,000. Andrea told me the support they’ve received so far has been fantastic. Just last night someone made a donation of £500. Most people contribute around £20 but he says even £2 is immensely useful to them as more than anything they need the numbers to show that the initiative is popular locally.

If you’d like to chip in the address is spacehive.com/ChiswickOasis

As well as the ‘Oasis’ which they hope will become a Chiswick landmark available to be appreciated by all, the parents’ anti-pollution committee, headed by Andrea, is also using separate funding given to the school in recognition of its status as one of the most polluted in the capital, to buy air purifiers for the classrooms, but they don’t come cheap. They have one on trial at the moment which will cost around £4,000 if they decide to buy it.

Evie sweeps the board at 2018 Dog Show

Evie, this beautiful dog pictured here with her owner Lauren, achieved a first at this year’s Chiswick House Dog Show on Sunday. She won both the Best In Show award and the Naughtiest Dog category.

Evie has worked hard to reach such dizzy heights. Her resume includes destroying a wedding and capsizing a rower, and as you can see she looks as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth!

The Dog Show got off to a slow start owing to the pouring rain on Sunday morning but it all came good in the end as the weather cleared up in the afternoon.

Heritage Park of the Year award hat-trick

Chiswick House & Gardens Trust has been awarded Heritage Park of the Year award in the London in Bloom competition for the third year running. It also won the award for the best Walled Garden and a clutch of other awards for its volunteers.

Geraldine King has been the head gardener for four and a half years. That the park has suddenly seen such tremendous success at winning awards on her watch is no coincidence. But what is it that she and her team do exactly that ticks all the right boxes? Read all about it here

Revised CS9 – take it or leave it

The much awaited report from Transport for London detailing their changes to the CS9 proposals has been delayed until next month, I am told. TfL confirm that they have “taken on board” the feedback, much of it hostile in Chiswick, but once they have published their revisions, the amount of further consultation will be “quite small”.

I asked how they would explain or further consult on the impact of the revised plans on the High Rd. “We’re probably not looking to make further changes” a spokeswoman told me; “we wouldn’t have the same level of consultation as before”. When asked what exactly a “smaller consultation” might entail she had no answer. That’s a matter for the ‘stakeholder management’ team she told me.

I have the sense that we are having our expectations managed. I interpret that as ‘take it or leave it’. We’d better hope the changes meet with majority approval then.

Brexit Debate in Chiswick

It’s party conference season. Labour party activitsts are hoping to get the Labour party to back a People’s Vote on Brexit  this week. The Liberal Democrats are already committed to it. It’s looking increasingly likely that the politicians may come up with nothing workable before the Brexit deadline, with parliamentary chaos and  confusion delivering no clear path. The chances of a ‘No Deal’ and a People’s Vote have suddenly both increased.

The Liberal Democrat Party and West London for Europe have jointly organised a debate in Chiswick Town Hall for next Monday, 1 October (7.00 – 9.00pm) with Tom Brake MP (Lib Dem) and Nacho Morais (chair of West London for Europe) on the subject.

Come and take part in the most important debate we’ve had for decades. The event is free but it would help the organisers if you were to register here

There will be another big march in London: the ‘People’s Vote and The Independent March for the Future’ on Saturday 20 October from mid-day in Park Lane.

Get your free hot water tanks here!

The people of Chiswick are being offered new, state of the art, energy efficient hot water tanks for free plus a sum of money for the installation. What’s the catch? I haven’t discovered one yet, it looks pretty kosher to me. The Eden Project in Cornwall is behind the scheme. Apart from being a lovely place to visit on holiday, the Eden Project is an educational charity which promotes sustainable living, and as such has a grant from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial strategy to promote the new tank. The aim of the exercise is for us all to use more energy efficient systems and reduce the amount of energy we use.

We get to be guinea pigs because so far they have only installed the tanks in 40 or so properties in Cornwall and they now want to try them in a range of different types of house in London. Their partners in this venture at the hot and steamy end are Chiswick based plumbers My Plumber, who won the contract for the job. The tank, called a ‘Mixergy’ tank is described as an intelligent hot water system, made by a company which is an offshoot of the University of Oxford’s Energy and Power Group. The co-founders, Pete Armstrong and Ren Kang, met while doing their PhDs.

In a typical UK household, heating and hot water make up half of the energy bill. A conventional hot water tank heats all or nothing, wastefully heating more water than we need. The tank they have developed works in a fundamentally different way. It ‘floats’ hot water on top of cold, so you don’t have to heat the whole tank, you only heat as much as you need. It also reheats to a usable temperature five times faster than a conventional tank. Not only that but the Mixergy tank connects to the internet to allow remote control from your phone and smart control from the Mixergy server to save energy. They’re also planning on using these tanks as a way of adding renewable energy capacity to the national grid.

For more on the technical stuff, have a look at the Mixergy website – mixergy.co.uk

As this is all so new, the Government has made funding available to give the tanks to households for free and to meet installation costs more or less. My Plumber will come and do a site survey and provide the PETE project (Power, Energy, Technology, Efficiency) and the householder with an installation estimate. In most cases the money available for installation should cover the cost, but houses vary, so they hesitate to say it will. There may be something to pay. But you end up with a much more energy efficient water tank which should save you money and which can be used with gas, electric or solar powered heating systems and with the existing controls.

To find out more about how you might get your hands on one, email askpete@peteproject.com or ring 01726 811911 and ask for the Pete Project. But hurry while stocks last! They’re looking for only 30 or so households to take part.

Photographs – The Eden Project and the PETE Project team

The first Cook Book Festival rated a Success

Scrolling through Twitter on Sunday morning I saw that Jack Monroe was apologising for being late, having got on the wrong train. She fetched up half an hour late but the audience seemed to forgive her. Maybe she was distracted by the news that morning that Katie Hopkins, against whom she had won a libel action the year before, had filed for IVA to avoid bankruptcy.

Jack tweeted “I have been paid in full, but many of her creditors, including my lawyer, will not be paid what they are owed. For the want of an apology, a house, a job, a column, a radio show, and now financial solvency, were lost. It’s all very sad, actually.

“I’m not cruel nor celebrating – that case cost me 18 months of sanity and work, and I think neither of us wanted it to turn out this way. (I can recommend an excellent budget cookery book or three, for getting back on your feet, though).”


Jo Pratt – photograph by Kelly Reeve

The Cook Book Festival was jointly organised by TV chef Jo Pratt and Lucy Cufflin of Ginger Whisk. Jo was to be seen dashing about the place with saucepans, along with the rest of the Cook Book Festival crew, just a streak of blonde hair and the fragrance of something good to eat on the breeze as she passed. When she did stop running about for a second she said: “Creating the very first Cookbook Festival here in Chiswick has not only been fabulous for the local community, but we also welcomed many foodie guests from miles away, who were thrilled to have a chance to meet their favourite chefs and authors. We have achieved our aim and brought cookbooks to life”.


Cook Book Festival – photograph by Kelly Reeve

So how was it putting on an innovative mix of talks and cooking demonstrations with some of the top chefs in the country for the first time? I asked joint organiser Lucy Cufflin.

“Did we take on too much? Yes, of course we did. Was it worth it? My goodness yes! When Jo and I casually decided it might be a good idea we had no idea the Herculean task we had just embarked upon and there is no doubt that this was pulled off by the utter dedication, talent and sheer determination of the fine group of women on our committee.

Each and every one of them is super talented but more than that I have never seen 12 people work so hard in such a short space of time. There was never once a cross word and there were plenty of giggles and such a sense of relief and achievement on Sunday at 6pm! Same time next year!”


Cook Book Festival crew – photo by Kelly Reeve

The best Chiswick Book Festival yet?

In my view yes. This is what the festival Director Torin Douglas had to say:

“It’s been a terrific year. Our sales income is easily a record – which is great news for our reading charities – and our total audiences are higher than they’ve ever been. We sold around 4,000 tickets, with over 300 in St Michael & All Angels Church for Max Hastings and around 175 each for Charles Spencer, Misha Glenny and Anthony Horowitz.

At Chiswick House we had a capacity crowd – 200 – for ‘Vanity Fair, Thackeray and Chiswick’. In the Andrew Llloyd Webber Theatre at Arts Ed we had a full house of 200 for Alan Rusbridger. We were sold out for Ann Cleeves and Caroline Slocock in the Parish Hall, which holds 100 seats. Our new venue – the London Buddhist Vihara – also seats 100 people and was full both for Roger McGough and the Young People’s Poetry Prizegiving.

Even more rewarding was the great feedback we’ve had. Our audiences really have enjoyed this year’s speakers and you can see lots of appreciative comments on social media. And the authors seem to have loved being here and the great welcome they’ve received.

On top of all that, our innovation for this year, the Cookbook Festival, was a huge success with sell-out demonstrations and talks in the Marquee and at Ginger Whisk. We’re already looking forward to next year!”

Torin Douglas.
Director, Chiswick Book Festival

Photograph above: Two of the bestselling female writers of our time, Joanna Trollope (An Unsuitable Match) and Kate Morton (The Clockmakers Daughter) talk to Cathy Rentzenbrink about their new books, inspiration, and the challenges of writing.

“There’s this thing called the Internet. I think it’s going to be quite big”

Alan Rusbridger was editor in chief of the Guardian from 1995 – 2015, the twenty years during which a revolution happened that is every bit as great as the invention of the printing press 500 years earlier. “It was about 100 years before people got the hang of books” he told a packed audience at the Chiswick Book Festival “This revolution is about ten minutes old”.

If Facebook was a country it would be the most populous in the world and is under pressure not to publish dangerous content. “Zuckerberg realises his position is untenable but doesn’t want to be responsible for all the content of his users … We have to help them and be patient … Let’s not ride in with hobnail boots and destroy them”.

Alan Rusbridger’s book Breaking News -The Remaking of Journalism And Why It Matters Now describes what it was like trying to run a newspaper at the same as dealing with these huge new internet information companies moving in and hoovering up all the advertising revenue. Adjusting from an era in which journalists had time to consider their story to one in which news had to be instant and everyone was producing content, not just journalists.

This is “potentially a very dark time” he told Robin Lustig, who himself worked for Reuters, the Observer and the BBC, when 50% of people say they can’t tell the difference between information that is real and that which is fake. “The Washington Post is keeping tabs on Trump. He’s been caught out on some 5,000 lies to date. He is taking aim at the New York Times which is perhaps the best newspaper in the world … Delegitimising these processes … When people can’t tell what’s true everything works on emotion”.

In this situation he said “the only justification for journalism is that we are performing a public service in the public interest.”

In an age where young people get most of their news from Facebook, (including his very bright students at Lady Margaret Hall, the Oxford college where he is now Principal) we have to start teaching media literacy. “There’s a job of work to be done with young people” he says, enabling them to discern truth from falsehood. “If the world wakes up in time we may be alright”.

You can watch my interview with Robin Lusting about his own book, an autobiography entitled Is Anything Happening? My Life as a Newsman here and buy either book from any good bookshop, including Chiswick Waterstones.

Meeting authors who you’ve read for years

The relationship between a writer and a reader is an intimate one. When you’ve been reading someone’s books over many years, enjoying them to the extent that you put your life on hold while you get to the end of one book and then look forward to the next, you feel you know them and to some extent you have ownership over their characters.

So it’s a bit of a risk going to see them live. They may not live up to expectations. You might not like them in the flesh or agree with what they say about their creations. It could be a huge let down.

But it wasn’t. I went to see historical novelist Kate Mosse (author of Labyrinth, Sepulchre, Citadel, The Winter Ghosts and The Taxidermist’s Daughter) and Ann Cleeves, the crime writer whose books are behind the TV drama series Shetland and Vera at the Chiswick Book Festival and they were lovely. They both just love writing and feel privileged to be successful enough to do just that. They were warm and funny and happy to share their characters with us. “Reading is an active process not a passive one” said Ann. Handing over a finished book to the public was “like handing a child over for adoption”. Once you’ve done that, you have no further say in their development; you just hope that others will care about them as you have done.

Read more about Kate Mosse and her latest book The Burning Chambers here, in which she returns to Carcassonne and the French religious wars – the first of four books in a family saga spanning 300 years – on The Chiswick Calendar website.

You can read more about Ann Cleeves, the making of Vera and her last and final book in the Shetland series Wild Fire, published just two weeks ago here.

Every dog has his day

Or at least on The Chsiwick Calendar website they do. One of the advantages of Chiswick’s leafiness is that people feel this is somewhere they can have a dog. On any given day in the grounds of Chiswick House you will see hundreds of them, and they all converge on the park in September for the Chiswick House Dog Show.

Have a look at our Dog of the Day feature here each day to meet some of Chiswick’s beloved dogs and read their stories. The Dog Show will be on Sunday 23 September. 

God Bless Aretha

There are some magical things which happen in Chiswick, one of which is the very popular women’s aqua-aerobics class at New Chiswick Pool on a Friday morning.

It’s attended by women of all ages, shapes and sizes, tending more towards the older and more generously proportioned with a variety of dodgy hair dyes. In other words I feel right at home. 

It is led by Glen, an affable and easy going bloke who does very little in the way of movement himself but has most wonderfully infectious and un-PC motivational style. (When he exhorted the class with “come on girls, you’re aquatic ballerinas” the resulting snort from me nearly caused me to drown).

He also has a top selection of music. He usually plays what is evidently the collection of a mis-spent youth: Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, James Brown, all the Soul greats but last week for almost the whole session he played a tribute to Aretha. 

Laughing and singing isn’t really conducive to effective swimming but as I did my laps with two other women of a certain age from different continents we agreed how much she’d enriched all our lives and hoped that if she was looking down on us the scene might put a smile on her face.

Developer responds to ‘horrible plastic hedge’ criticism

The developer Indigo Scott is causing consternation in Chiswick where ‘An inspired collection of 25 studios,1 and 2 bedroom apartments ideally located to embrace the enviable charms of Chiswick’ are on sale at 510 Chiswick High Rd. Design journalist Barbara Chandler pointed out that it had a ‘HORRIBLE PLASTIC HEDGE’ on Twitter. 

Sharon Scott, a Director of Indigo Scott says “the purpose of the hedge is to act as a privacy screen to the residents in the ground floor apartments, and to provide a ‘soft boundary’ to the building. “We were especially keen to provide something that fitted in with the glorious green foliage of the street” she says.

They considered various options and chose the plastic hedge because their experience has shown that “when you have multiple owners … it is difficult to provide a common care programme of watering and maintenance”. It is fire retardant and complies to British Standards (unlike natural hedging), she says and is fully recyclable at end of use. 

Indigo Scott has installed many kilometres of natural hedging over the years, and this is the first time they have used artificial hedging in such a location. “Our decision was especially relevant this year during the drought – there was much talk of an imminent hose pipe ban, in which case a natural hedge would undoubtedly have died,  as a newly planted hedge needs very regular watering”. 

“Ludicrous” says Abundance

Karen Liebreich of Chiswick based charity Abundance London says: “It is quite astonishing that the developers at 510 Chiswick High Rd, Indigo Scott, can consider that a tacky plastic hedge fits in with the glorious green foliage of the street” which they claim to be “especially keen” to complement in this “prominent position” on the High Road! Their claim that the building’s owners would not be able to provide a common care programme of watering and maintenance is ludicrous, as this would be included in any sensible service agreement. Their further claim that there might have been a hosepipe ban which might have affected the hedge only serve to underline that they have chosen a tasteless plastic feature with no natural value in terms of aesthetics, bio-diversity or appropriateness simply because it’s cheap”. 

Gated community extension referred to planning officer

I reported last week that a planning application 3-8 Devonhurst Place, Heathfield Terrace was the cause of much concern for local residents. As a result of Cllr Ranjit Gill calling it in, the application for a roof extension to create a fourth floor with three additional residential units will now be considered by a planning officer and if they aren’t concerned enough by the many objections to turn it down, it will be referred to the full planning committee of LB Hounslow.

 

CS9 report ‘soon’

Transport for London is due to publish its response to the issues raised during the public consultation on Cycle Super Highway 9 this month. LB Hounslow’s Head of Traffic, Transport and Environmental Strategy, Mark Frost says there are “a number of substantial changes” which have been made to the CS9 proposal. Improvements have been made as a result of the consultation.

In response to opposition from Chiswick residents to the bi-directional cycle path taking pavement space from along the High Rd “some road space has been taken away and given to cyclists” he says instead. 

TfL have met a group of Chiswick’s councillors and Fr Michael Dunne, parish priest at Our Lady of Grace and St Edward on Chiswick High Rd to demonstrate that the issues raised by people in Chiswick have been noted. They have also now carried out a full impact analysis on how CS9 might affect air quality.

Cllr Sam Hearn told me if TfL make considerable changes they will have to put the revised plan out for further public consultation. His understanding is that TfL have realised their plans were flawed and that they will be going to public consultation on quite significant parts of the plan.

One change I hear has been made is along the South Circular stretch. Where the original design was for there to be a single direction cycle track on both sides of the road, in the revised proposal there will be a bi-directional path on the Chiswick side instead.

But all will be revealed shortly.

Shoplifting under £50 won’t be investigated by police

Hounslow Police officers have announced that it is no longer their policy to investigate shoplifting if the value of the goods stolen is less than £50.

Giving their report to the Chiswick Area Forum meeting last week, two local police officers Dinesh Pillay and Adam Pitts confirmed that although Chsiwick is not a high crime area there is a fair amount of shoplifting which goes on in Chiswick High Rd but they don’t have the resources to investigate every theft and would only do so if the value of the goods stolen was over £50.

I know things have moved on a little from the days when you were hanged for stealing a sheep, but this seems to me a staggering admission of the inability of the modern Metropolitan Police to do the basic police work the public expects.

Big companies with security staff and legal teams can pursue a civil case, but where does that leave the poor beleaguered small independent business? John Farrant, co-owner of homeware shop Greige on Bedford Corner, told me if they caught a shoplifter they would expect the police to do something and that they aren’t equipped to take action. “I don’t think many people would have the money or the time to pursue a civil case” he said.

Councillor Sam Hearn told me the news didn’t surprise him; the police have to focus on their priorities and while as a politician he would prefer them to be able to take action “even if I jumped up and down it’s not going to change anything”. He said shopkeepers have to take responsibility for pursuing theft and in the past have “possibly made things too easy for thieves” by not taking proper measures such as using CCTV.

Al Pacino in Serpico

Undercover cops on the look out for burglars

Burglary appears to be a higher priority for the police locally. This same police report revealed that there have been plain clothes operations in Chiswick in an attempt to spot burglars.

I have to admit I drifted into a reverie at this point as I tried to work out what mufti for going under deep cover in Chiswick might look like. Al Pacino in Serpico? (1973) Apparently the ’70s are back in fashion. A business suit perhaps? Too formal in an area where many people work at home. Chinos then, teamed with a Cuban collar shirt and leather jacket? I decided anything from the Boden catalogue would be perfect cover for male and female officers.

Twenty minutes to respond to a 999 call from Feltham

I came back to the room to hear Cllr John Todd telling the meeting that one of his ward constituents had phoned 999 while witnessing an burglary and it had taken 20 minutes for the police to respond because they had come from Feltham.

Chiswick now comes under one of 12 new Basic Command Units, Ealing, Hillingdon and Hounslow, which is based in Hounslow. Maybe the police in Hammersmith might be persuaded to attend 999 calls in Chiswick, Cllr Todd suggested, especially as some of their officers were still occupying Chiswick Police Station?

The police officers looked uncomfortable but essentially said the computer says no. What they actually said was that Hammersmith wouldn’t even see the calls because of the way the system was configured.

I swear we’re going backwards.

Cook Book Festival offers and recipes

Three of our Club Card businesses have got fabulous offers for the Cook Book Festival.

Chateau on the High Rd is making four of Jo Pratt’s recipes from her new book The Flexible Vegetarian. Over the Festival weekend from Friday 14 – Sunday 16 September try the roast beetroot soup & grilled peaches burrata with mint pesto. The following weekend, Friday 21 – Sunday 23 September go and try Jo’s spinach soup & fig and goats cheese salad. 20% off for Club Card holders (AND the usual amazing 20% off the whole brunch / lunch menu continues).

A few doors down As Nature Intended is offering a 20% discount to card holders mentioning the Cookbook Festival at the till all day Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 September.

When you’ve had your lunch and done your shopping head to Charlotte’s Bistro on Turnham Green Terrace for a cocktail. The bar tender will be making Silla Njerrum’s ‘Bincho on the Rocks’ cocktail with a 20% discount on it for Club Card members from today onwards.

If you fancy trying one or two of the recipes at home before buying a book, there’s a selection of recipes from Cook Book Festival authors here

Chiswick Book Festival this weekend

Director of the Chiswick Book Festival, Torin Douglas MBE and Jo James, Author Programme Director, have excelled themselves this year with a top line up for the 10th Chiswick Book Festival.

The festival welcomes back historians Charles Spencer and Max Hastings. The 9th Earl Spencer will be talking about his book To Catch A King, which recounts the tale of his relative (albeit on the wrong side of the blanket) King Charles II’s mad dash across the English countryside to escape the fate of his father. Sir Max Hastings will be discussing Vietnam, An Epic Tragedy, 1945 – 75 which he experienced first hand as a 24 year old reporter and now revisits with all the rigour of an acclaimed historian


Kate Mosse

I’m mid way through Kate Mosse’s book The Burning Chambers, the first of a sequence by the historical novelist in which she returns to Carcassonne, scene of her best selling novel Labyrinth. ‘A story of love and loss, war and displacement spanning three centuries and sweeping from Carcassonne and Toulouse to South Africa, via Paris, Amsterdam and London.’ I’m at the bit where Minou, a Catholic girl whose family harbours a dark secret, is falling in love with Piet, a Hugenot with secrets of his own, and her timing couldn’t be worse…

Novelists Kate Mosse and Joanna Trollope are appearing next weekend, as are authors of spy thrillers Anthony Horowitz and Charles Cumming and many others.

You can see my interview with Anthony Horowitz here and with Charles Cumming here and a profile of Director of the Chiswick Book Festival Torin Douglas here.

Read more about the book festival here

Chiswick In Pictures opens at the Clayton Hotel Chiswick

Chiswick In Pictures is now open at the Clayton Hotel Chiswick. This year’s exhibition, organised by The Chiswick Calendar, is more representational in style than last year’s show, with recognisable Chiswick scenes painted by professional artists who live locally. 

Delicate watercolours of Hogarth’s House, Chiswick House and Gardens and local parks by Hugh Bredin, Sophie Ashdown Coady, Christine Berrington and Liz Butler MA, RWS hang alongside charcoal drawings by George Christie, Joanna Brendon MBE, MA and Jill Meager.

Bright summer gardens and allotments by Francis Bowyer P.P.R.W.S., N.E.A.C.,  Glynis Porter and Rennie Pilgrem sit with architectural prints of Voysey House by Rachel Busch and the structural magnificence of Hammersmith Bridge by Keith Davidson, while a small ink and pastel drawing of cranes over Chiswick by Jason Bowyer P.P.N.E.A.C.,RP, PS is a nod to the continuing changes on Chiswick’s skyline.

 

 

Francis Bowyer P.P.R.W.S., N.E.A.C.

Large oil paintings by Humphrey Bangham and Isobel Johnstone show Strand on the Green and the chestnut trees on Turnham Green in full bloom and those by Arabella Harcourt-Cooze catch the light on the river in its many moods. 

Louise Kaye has chosen street scenes from Chiswick High Rd, while Jon Perry and Anna Kunst cover a variety of Chiswick scenes in their atmospheric photographs.

The art work is for sale and if you’d like to come and meet the artists and talk to them about their work, or indeed just enjoy the free booze and the art work, please come to the Private View this Wednesday, 12 September at 7.30pm. As a subscribers to The Chiswick Calendar newsletter you are hereby invited. The event is free, though it would help us greatly if you would register here.

The exhibition continues until Saturday 27 October, in the atrium of the Clayton Hotel Chiswick at 626 Chiswick High Rd, W4 5RY. As it’s a public space you can pop in and have a look at any time. Email bridget@chiswickcalendar.co.uk if you would like to buy one of the works on show.

Read more about the exhibition here

Men needed

It’s not often in this post feminist world that you will hear that said, but this is a job that just requires men. The Hogarth Singers are in need of tenors and basses.

The choir, which has been going for more than 20 years, has an excellent reputation not only musically but as a warm and welcoming social club. They meet every Monday night at 7.30pm at the Arts Ed on Bath Rd and their first meeting for the autumn season will be on 17 September, starting at 7.00pm.

The Hogarth Singers will be performing Bach’s Oratorio this Christmas, “one of the key works of choral music” says Musical Director Rupert Gill, “a great piece”.

Rupert, himself a bass, works with a range of professional and amateur music groups. He says the lack of men in choirs is a perennial problem. Perhaps it is to do with boys’ voices breaking that they leave the school choir and don’t find their way back to choral music, much as they may enjoy singing, whereas girls have continuity.

Whatever the reason, men, and women are welcome to join the choir. It is not auditioned and you don’t have to be able to read music, so if you’re at all inclined, give it a go. Prospective members can just turn up, or contact hogarthsingers@gmail.com, or call Sue on 07880 600991.

Read more about The Hogarth Singers here.

A taste of the Cookbook Festival at Chateau

During the Cook Book Festival Anette Megyaszai at Chateau and her head chef Jimmy will be cooking up some of the recipes from one of the books being promoted at the festival as a special offer for holders of The Chiswick Calendar Club Card.

Friday 14 – Sunday 16 September

Taste TV Chef Jo Pratt’s Roast beetroot soup and her recipe for grilled peaches burrata with mint pesto.

Friday 21- Sunday 23 September

Try out Jo’s spinach soup and her fig and goat’s cheese salad.

The Flexible Vegetarian

All four recipes are from The Flexible Vegetarian, available to buy in Waterstones or at the festival, price £20, or you can buy it online here.  Published by Frances Lincoln, an imprint of The Quarto Group. Read more about Anette and Chateau here. Book tickets for the Cook Book Festival here.

Charles Cumming’s new book The Man Between

Charles Cumming has a good grasp of contemporary geopolitics. His spy thrillers range from North Africa to Moscow and from Washington to Turkey. He always seems to have his finger on the pulse, whether he’s writing about the Uyghurs in China or Basque separatists in Spain.

His latest book concerns direct action in the era of Donald Trump and the alt right.  Writer Kit Carradine is asked to do a bit of spying on a trip to Morocco for a book festival and quickly finds himself out of his depth.

Charles himself was invited to apply for a job with MI6 when he first left university. He says he didn’t get the job, but the experience gave him some good material with which to start his career as a writer.

Watch his interview here and then go and see him at the Chiswick Book Festival on Sunday 16 September.

Book tickets for the Chiswick Book Festival here.

‘Horrible plastic hedge’

Developers Indigo Scott are causing consternation in Chiswick over the plastic hedge they have installed at 510 Chiswick High Rd where ‘An inspired collection of 25 studios, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments ideally located to embrace the enviable charms of Chiswick’ is on sale at 510 Chiswick High Rd.

Design journalist Barbara Chandler tweeted ‘We have this HORRIBLE PLASTIC HEDGE on Chiswick High Road. Shame on you #indigoscot’ to which another Tweeter replied ‘Ugh ugh ugh. Shame on all involved in its creation + display. Deeply eco-unfriendly too. Zero photosynthesis oxygen + looks like max indisposable plastic’.

 

I phoned Indigo Scott for a comment and haven’t heard back from the design director yet but the person I did speak to said she assumed the choice of plastic was for ‘maintenance reasons.’

Talk about killing the goose which laid the golden eggs. The most often quoted of Chiswick’s ‘enviable charms’ is that it’s ‘leafy’! As in real leaves. Although recent research from a company called Blooming Artificial, which sells fake plants, showed that people taking part in their photo quiz thought in 49% of cases that real plants were fake and in 40% of the time, people thought that fake plants were real. What is the world coming to?!

Jo Pratt’s new book The Flexible Vegetarian

Talking to Jo Pratt, TV chef, cook book author and co-organiser of the Cook Book Festival, I realise her book is exactly what I need. The Flexible Vegetarian is for cooks who want to try out vegetarian recipes but may want to add a bit of meat or fish if they feel like it.

In any family gathering you’re quite likely to have a teenager taking their first steps to becoming vegetarian and a diehard carnivore who doesn’t consider it’s a proper meal unless there’s meat involved. Jo’s book solves that problem.

Vegetarian dishes are no longer the preserve of wild-eyed zealots hell bent on saving the world. Now that there are interesting vegetarian recipes available, there are plenty of non-vegetarians who like good food, want to eat healthily and are as likely to choose a vegetable dish for a main course as they are a meat dish, and this is being recognised by mainstream cookery writers.

Jo is a TV chef who has worked with big name chefs such as Jamie Oliver, Gary Rhodes, Gordon Ramsay, and John Torode. She’s also the author of six successful cookery books before this one and is the co-organiser of the Cook Book Festival, 12 – 16 September.

You can read how she got in to professional cooking and see her recipe for a vegetarian creamy mushroom, leek and chestnut pie here. Add chicken or pork from the left over Sunday roast if you so wish.

You can book for her cookery demonstration on Sunday 16 September at the Cook Book Festival here.

Read more about Jo here.

 

Anger at extension plans for ‘exclusive gated community’

Up for discussion at the Chiswick Area Forum meeting on Tuesday 4 September are the local policing reports and the planning application for 3-8 Devonhurst Place, Heathfield Terrace. Cllr Ranjit Gill has called in the application for a roof extension to create a fourth floor with three additional residential units which received 39 objections during the consultation period.

The complaints range from harm to the Turnham Green Conservation Area/Heritage assets to concerns about planning process in general, concerning the consultation, the number of applications and the type of applications which are being made.

Tidefest 2018

Tidefest was fun. More than two thousand people visited the stalls at Strand on the Green, including The Chiswick Calendar’s, and took part in activities in Sunday’s glorious sunshine which included angling, paddle-boarding, boat trips, river dipping, kayaking, nature reserve visits and a circus workshop, 

You can see Anna Kunst’s pictures of the day on The Chiswick Calendar website. I love the London child’s look of horrified fascination when, allowed to wade into the squidgy mud with the water nearly over their wellies, they peer into their nets to see what manner of beastie is squirming there.

Tidefest winning angler – Photograph Anna Kunst

Winner of the Tidefest Angling Championship was Mike Martin-Davies, who picked up a £650 prize for his 41.4oz bag of bream.

Tidefest organiser Martin Salter said “we caught baby sea bass and flounder in the seine nets by Kew Bridge which shows what an important nursery area the Thames Estuary has become”.

Local MPs Ruth Cadbury and Rupa Huq, Mayor Samia Chaudhary and Leader of Hounslow Council Steve Curran were there to show support and it brought together all those who have business on the river, including the Port of London Authority and Thames Water, the Marine Conservation Society, the London Wildlife Trust, River Thames Society and the RSPB amongst others.

See Anna’s photos of the day on The Chiswick Calendar website

What does the Crossrail delay mean for Chiswick?

Crossrail, the £15bn infrastructure project designed to ease London’s chronic congestion by connecting major hubs such as Heathrow Airport and Canary Wharf, will not now open this December but in autumn 2019 it was announced on Friday.

When fully operational the Elizabeth Line, as it will be called, will run from Reading and Heathrow in the west through 13 miles of new tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. It is expected to be used by an estimated 200m passengers, increasing central London rail capacity by 10%, the largest increase since World War Two.

It’s a hugely complex project and obviously they have to get it right; if it’s £600m over the budget, so be it if that is the price of ensuring it’s safe to operate. But what does the delay mean for places such as Chiswick, where a whole host of planning decisions are being taken on the basis that there is new transport infrastructure coming soon?

Hiatus between new build and the infrastructure to support it

Major development planned for east Brentford and the Great West Corridor is being decided in the expectation that there will be new transport infrastructure to support it.  

Over the summer Sadiq Khan approved a revised planning application at the site of the Citroen garage near Chiswick roundabout because of the need for increased provision for affordable housing. The development comprises ‘441 residential units with ancillary facilities, flexible retail, employment and community uses and a children’s nursery in buildings of 12, 13, 16, 17 and 18 storeys in height’. Decisions like this are being taken on the basis that there will be new transport infrastructure to cope with the thousands of people moving in.

Proposed rail links 

One of the key planks of LB Hounslow’s transport strategy is the introduction of three major rail links, two of which would involve links to the Elizabeth line:

Southall Rail Link – Connecting Brentford to Southall, where it would provide a reliable and high capacity link with the new Elizabeth Line service.

The West London Orbital – Connecting Hounslow and Brentford to the Elizabeth Line at Old Oak Common.

These are currently at the ‘options assessment’ stage and are being ‘taken forward’ in conjunction with Transport for London and ‘promoted’ as part of the council’s strategy. Ie. they’re barely one stage on from jottings of a wish list on the back of an envelope.

I’m just guessing here, but what’s the betting we’ll have much greater congestion along the A4, Chiswick High Rd and North Circular before any of this new infrastructure comes to fruition?

The council’s Head of Traffic, Transport & Environmental Strategy Mark Frost will be at the Chiswick Area Forum meeting at Chiswick Town Hall tonight, a meeting of Chiswick councillors to which the general public is invited, to give us a briefing on the council’s transport strategy. Interestingly there is scant mention of the controversial CS9 in his report. The meeting starts at 7.00pm.