Get Your Christmas Cards Here!

The Chiswick Calendar has got together with interior designer Angela Corden, painter Arabella Harcourt-Cooze and photographers Anna Kunst, Jon Perry and Barbara Chandler to create a beautiful set of items which would make lovely Christmas presents or would add a little something to your own home perhaps.

A beautifully presented boxed set of cards – cunningly designed with no writing in so you can use them as notelets or give them as a gift –  lampshades, placemats and coasters make up the collection. For more details have a look on our new e-commerce website.

180 trees planted beside the A4

Another Chiswick citizen not known for her passivity is Karen Liebreich, who has just organised around 200 children from Falcons pre-prep school and Grove Park Primary school to plant 180 trees alongside the A4 on an unremarkable bit of ground that I hadn’t even realised was dignified with the name of a park – Harvard Hill Park.

The Woodland Trust donated the trees for free to Abundance London, who organised volunteers including local tree expert Steve Pocock, (pictured above right), to oversee the planting. Street artist Mark, who prefers to go by his street artist’s name ATM (also pictured) was eyeing up a bit of bare wall for a mural.

Karen, who trained as a horticulturalist, thinks there should now be a biodiversity audit of all our parks to provide the right habitat for wildlife, particularly birds. 

It’s a sobering thought that by the time the children who took part in tree planting on Monday are the same age as Jack Harries is now we may have gone past the tipping point at which it is already too late to halt catastrophic global warming. 

Read more about Karen and about Abundance London

See our profile of Karen Liebreich here

Read a feature about the work of Abundance London here

Chiswick High Rd – Use it or lose it

The ‘Just a card’ campaign has focused attention on how much difference just a small purchase can make to a small independent trader. The campaign came about when artist and designer Sarah Hamilton saw the quote “If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought ‘just a card‘ we’d still be open” by store keepers who’d recently closed their gallery. “Running a shop is often a labour of love” she says. “Without dedication and passion, and crucially sales, it would be another boarded up eyesore”.

Elias & Grandsons

A-Z of presents from independent traders

With that in mind The Chiswick Calendar has put together an A – Z of Christmas present ideas that you can buy from independent traders in Chiswick. 

A is for Art

In Chiswick we have lots of excellent artists. While many have their work on display in galleries and exhibitions, they are also happy to sell from home and to arrange viewings by appointment. The Chiswick Calendar has put together a directory of artists so you can browse their work online and then get in touch direct.

B is for Books

Foster Books, established in 1968, is a family-run business which has now passed to a second generation of booksellers. The oldest shop on Chiswick High Road, the building dates from the late 18th century. Fosters specialise in antiquarian books, fine bindings, illustrated children’s books and first editions, as well as a general stock leaning towards literature and the arts. 

C is for Cameras

This year’s must have from the Chiswick Camera Centre is a smart phone picture printer. The Tomy Kiipix is a nifty little box; you put your phone on top, load a pack of Fujjifilm and press print. Instant pictures from your phone. £39.99 from Chiswick Camera Centre.

Andy Sands, the owner of Chiswick Camera Centre, is himself an ace wildlife photographer. I wrote a profile feature about him earlier this year which you can find in the This Is Chiswick section of the website. If you’re wanting advice about cameras and camera gear, there’s not much that he and his staff don’t know

Kiipix smartphone printer from Chiswick Cameras

Elias and Grandsons

Under ‘L’ for Leather goods you will find Elias and Grandsons. 

Elias set up the business in 1974 and was, according to his son in law Frank, “the Basil Fawlty of the shoe-mending business”. The shop, at 3 Chiswick Common Rd, just off Turnham Green Terrace, went out of the family for some years but is now managed by Frank, whose own father was also in the shoe-mending business, in Richmond. Frank married Elias’ eldest daughter and their sons Elia and Pandeli now run both shops.

Elias and Grandsons offers the highest quality workmanship for shoe and bag repairs but they also sell beautifully hand crafted leather shoes and bags made by Pandeli (dubbed “the Mozart of bag making” by Elia). Although the name of the shop says ‘Elias and Grandsons’ in fact sons, daughters and grandsons are all involved. 


Under ‘D’ for Dresses you will find De Joli

Diane Bardon has been in business in Chiswick since 1989. Born in Baghdad, she came to London at the age of 17 to finish her education, became interested in retail working for British company RAYNNE shoes, a Harrods concession, and decided to go solo. She sells women’s clothing at her boutique De Jolie. This year, under pressure from Westfield, E-commerce and high rent and business rates, she almost folded but has decided instead to sublet part of her shop as a concession. Gabriela Pascu is now open for business with her range of children’s wear and Diane plans to reopen the rest of the shop to continue selling women’s clothes from 1 December.

To browse A – M of our Christmas present ideas from local independent businesses go to present ideas page. N – Z  will follow next week.

Wing mirror graveyard

Have you noticed how many wing mirrors or bits thereof are strewn about the entrance to the raised section of the A316 at Hogarth roundabout? There is always a pile of them highlighting the failure of drivers to judge the width of their vehicle as the road narrows to a single lane.

Years ago I was giving a teenager a lift along this stretch of road. As I confidently negotiated the entrance (without incident) he wryly observed that his mother, a well known local doctor married to a commercial airline pilot and former fighter pilot, always put her foot down at this point just to prove she too was no slouch at spatial awareness. 

I now can’t go over that flyover without thinking of Top Gun. You can imagine their conversations at the breakfast table:

Iceman: “You can be my wingman any time.”

Maverick: “Bull—-! You can be mine.”

But there are an awful lot of Chiswick residents you really wouldn’t want as your wingman!

Virgin on the ridiculous

If you’re a fan of silly humour and you like Hugh Dennis, pop along to the Richmond theatre this week.

The Messiah is a comedy about a theatre troupe staging a production about the birth of Jesus. Hugh plays Maurince Rose, the proprietor and John Marquez (the policeman in Doc Martin) plays the rest of the company, with soprano Lesley Garrett as the chorus, trying to sing serious songs while they lark about around her (think Morcambe and Wise with Glenda Jackson).

It’s written by Patrick Barlow, known amongst other things for his two man theatre company the National Theatre of Brent, so he has form with actors playing lots of parts with merely a hat, or in this case a tea towel to indicate change of role. 

The comedians play very well off each other. Hugh the concerned Joesph trying to help Mary breathe through the contractions as John morphs effortlessly from bored teenager Mary to the midwife to the Archangel Gabriel. This is Lesley Garrett’s first play. It’s always fun watching someone known for their serious art unbutton themselves. She took to mucking about like a wise man to a camel. 

Tips when buying art for a present

Guest blog by Alice Sheridan

One of the joys of my ‘job’ as an artist is seeing people fall in love with art and deciding they want a painting which they can enjoy forever. But it’s not always so straightforward. If there are two of you, you have each other’s taste to take into account, or there are more practical matters like “Should it match my walls?” or “Will it fit?” And choosing art as a Christmas present? At once a brilliant idea for the spouse who has everything, and yet potentially very easy to make a mistake.

Showing as part of Artists at Home is wonderful for this as people can see artwork in a home setting which makes it easier for them to imagine. Galleries can totally throw your sense of scale, because, let’s face it – few of us live in plain white boxes! Art can make an amazing gift at Christmas but how can you get it right? I usually show my work at art fairs and often recommend this tip for people to help them visualise the space. Smaller paintings are easy to fit in but for larger works it can be hard to imagine how a painting might look in your home. One thing I recommend is to measure out the size using sheets of newspaper stuck together.

Simply measuring with a tape measure only gives you a linear dimension so the newspaper trick allows you to see the full area the painting will fill. But don’t play too safe; grouping small works together in a ‘gallery wall’ lets you add to your collection, and larger pieces in smaller spaces can have great impact.

If you are thinking of buying for a gift from an individual artist – do ask them what they recommend. Many artists will let you have work on approval for a short while. Last year I created bespoke gift cards for a husband who wanted to gift his wife a painting, but wished to let her choose. That way she had something to unwrap on the day and he knew she could pick the one she really wanted.

PS. A painting doesn’t need to match your walls! Choose it because you love it and you will never get bored. An art collection can grow with you and bring personality to your home. Listen to your instinct – when you get that slight tingle, you know it’s right.

Alice Sheridan is an artist who lives in Chiswick and regularly takes part in Artists At Home open studios every summer.

Alice’s work has been selected by The Society of Women Artists, used by Harlequin interior designers and she is represented by galleries across the UK. She has a current shared exhibition ’experience of landscape’ with artist Nadia Day at 1of 1 Design in Teddington (80 High St, Teddington TW11 8JD) open until 9th December.

Not prepared to be a “passive citizen” any more

Guest blog by Jack Harries

My name is Jack Harries. I’m a 25 year old living in London and I grew up in Chiswick.

As a documentary filmmaker focusing on issues around Climate Change I’ve had the chance to travel to Greenland to document glacial retreat, to Somaliland to cover drought and recently to the remote island of Kiribati to make a short film about sea level rise. Throughout my travels I have visited some of the ‘front lines’ of climate change and to put it frankly I am scared for the state of my future. We are experiencing ecological breakdown on multiple fronts. In fact scientists are saying that we have entered a new geological epoch known as ‘The Anthropocene’ – The era of human caused permanent planetary change. This has been illustrated recently in media reports, by the UN announcing that we have 12 years to limit climate catastrophe and the WWF suggesting that humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970.

I think as my generation are starting to learn about these issues they are feeling scared, overwhelmed and angry, especially given our politicians’ complete inability to acknowledge the issue. Philip Hammond’s recent budget failed entirely to mention climate change.

I became aware of the group Extinction Rebellion last year whilst making a film about the air pollution crisis in London. I had a chance to interview Roger Hallam, an organic farmer doing a PhD in direct action activism at Kings College. Roger is somewhat of a legend in the environmental scene in London and although  ‘ER’ claims to have no leaders or organisers it would be fair to say the group is his brain child.

Extinction Rebellion is a group formed of thousands activists and backed by over 100 senior academics from across the UK. In a letter published in the Guardian they say the failure of politicians to tackle climate breakdown and the growing extinction crisis means “the ‘social contract’ has been broken and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty to bypass the government’s inaction and flagrant dereliction of duty, and to rebel to defend life itself.”

This weekend (17 November) saw the organisation’s first major demonstration. At 11.00am on a sunny Saturday morning 6000 people shut down five bridges in central London resulting in 82 arrests. I was proud to be one of those activists. I can’t speak for others attending the protest but on Westminster bridge where I sat it was a surprisingly peaceful and happy atmosphere with music, dancing, speeches and multi faith celebrations.

Whilst the event of course may have caused some people an inconvenience, it is nothing compared to the challenges that threaten our future. We are at a breaking point. For far too long governments have avoided action on climate change by banking on the fact that young people don’t understand the issues. If it proved anything I hope Saturday communicated a clear message that my generation understand what is happening, that we are scared for our future and we won’t stand by and be passive citizens any more.

Jack Harries is a member of Extinction Rebellion

West London MPs at odds with Corbyn

When Jeremy Corbyn said over the weekend that a new referendum on the UK’s relationship with the EU is “an option for the future” but “not an option for today” he was not representing the views of west London MPs. 

Ruth Cadbury, Rupa Huq and Andy Slaughter have all said recently that a People’s Vote is what should happen next. The MP for Brentford & Isleworth, Ruth Cadbury, speaking at a neighbourhood coffee morning on Saturday said she was fortunate that her beliefs tallied with that of her electorate – 74% people in Chiswick voted Remain – and she pointed out that for the first time last week Theresa May had included ‘no Brexit’ as one of the country’s three current options: her deal, Brexit with no deal or no Brexit. 

Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central & Acton, has been reminding people on Twitter that the Labour Party “unanimously decided”  that Brexit could and should be stopped at its recent conference: “its sovereign decision-making body” . 

Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith, also believes that Brexit would be an economic, political and cultural disaster for the UK. He wrote that it is now up to Parliament to vote down the deal. “It has taken over two years for Theresa May’s Government to produce a ‘Withdrawal Agreement’, which is only the first step in the Brexit process. It says nothing about our future relationship with Europe but is a clumsy and destructive attempt to sever the economic and political ties that have been built up over the past 40 years”. This is, he says “the most serious political crisis since 1945 and without a majority in Parliament, the honourable course is to call a General Election”.

All three MPs are among a group of 70 plus cross party MPs who have signed an amendment to the Finance Bill to get the government to publish an economic impact assessment comparing the Brexit deal on offer from Theresa May with the existing deal we have as a full EU member. “Voters need to know this vital information” says Rupa Huq.

Before you write to me to say that I’ve chosen a particularly mean picture of Ruth, it is by the way her chosen Twitter portrait, what I call her ‘WTF?’ expression.

B&I Conservative chair joins People’s Vote

Chairman of the Brentford & Isleworth Conservative party Julian Tanner has just joined the People’s Vote. The Conservative party locally are quite quiet on Brexit because they are also split, but he’s supported a second referendum for some time. 

Sports presenter Gabby Logan tweeted in August:  “Like a lot of us I am desperate for facts and clarity. As a mum and as a citizen I’m getting more and more worried about the way Brexit is going. So my family and I are backing #PeoplesVote on the final deal. The country has to have chance to speak”.

Julian responded “Absolutely right Gabby. This matters for our children”. In June he tweeted “What we need is a second referendum”. On November 16 he tweeted: “Check out People’s Vote. I just joined”.

It should be said of course that the Lib Dem party (all of it) is in favour of a People’s Vote and have been united on that stance pretty consistently. It seems to me that our traditional party system doesn’t serve us best in this situation. We need a clear choice between pro and anti Europe.

Gina Miller event cancelled

I am really sorry to say that our event with Gina Miller on Tuesday 4th December has been cancelled. It would have been great to hear her take on events just now, but it appears that the timing was just a little bit too topical.

I received this email from her assistant on Monday:
“I’m afraid that, due to rapid development of current political events, Gina will be unable to attend the event in Chiswick as she is likely to be abroad that evening. Gina asked me to pass on her sincerest apologies, and we hope that you will consider us for future events”.

Anyone who has already booked tickets will have them refunded and I will try and get another date in her diary.

Dukes Meadows Trust celebrates 20 years

It’s 20 years since the first meeting at which Kathleen Healy and then Councillor Paul Lynch sat round a table and discussed the ambitious, some might have thought unattainably idealistic proposition that the bit of rough ground at Dukes Meadows where people regularly fly tipped rubbish and burnt abandoned cars might become a well kept park and adventure playground.

Photograph above: Dylan Carty

“They never dreamed we’d do it”

“The Council was quite patronising” says Kathleen, now Development Officer of the Dukes Meadows Trust. “They never thought we’d do it” she says. To be fair, it is a not inconsiderable achievement to have organised the local community into taking back the land (common land granted to the people by the Mason family), landscaping it, building an adventure playground, paddling pool and kiosk and maintaining it all on a voluntary basis, with only limited input from the Parks department. With the active encouragement of Riverside councillor Paul Lynch the group of volunteers started the Sunday Food Market within a year of that meeting and over the next 19 years the proceeds of the weekly farmers market have funded most of the rest of the development.

Children from the local primary school, Cavendish Primary, were drafted in to design the adventure playground. The zip wire – the ‘Flying Fox’ and slide were the brainchild of Dylan Carty, now 21, and his mate, both then in Year 5. “We wanted this elaborate system of tunnels as well” he says “but it just wasn’t practicable”. Dylan has just landed a job with global law firm DLA Piper, though at present he still lives with his mum and dad beside Dukes Meadows.

“It’s great to see it come so far” says Dylan, an old boy of Chiswick School, “it’s so drastically different. We spent so much time here hanging out”. He also helped out in the market and became the market manager before he went off to university at Exeter.

Photographs above L-R: Sophia-May Rodgers, Musab Bouyardan, Ruth Cadbury MP, Lily Daly and Isabela Sposito

“It’s fantastic” says parent Mette Rodgers. “Our kids are now of an age they can go on their own to meet up and they spend hours and hours here”.

“The paddling pool was great when they were younger. It’s a safe place where they can play” says Gemma Daly.

The Trust still has links with the school. Just last week they were involving the children in a project about local industry. They had a go at wallpaper making and tried making chocolate as well.

“I once tried making a Cadbury’s creme egg” Ruth told the children. “It came out alright actually”. I should hope so. She is of course a scion of the great chocolate making family which makes some 500 million creme eggs a year.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Dukes Meadows park nominated for an award

See also: Dukes Meadows retains its Green Flag

Mother & daughter marathon runners nominated for an award

Image above: Jacquie Millett and Camilla Langlands

Jacquie Millett and Camilla Langlands, a mother and daughter from Chiswick who over the past five years have run more than 100 marathons together, have been nominated for an award for their blog ‘This is how we run’.

The title isn’t just a play on ‘this is how we roll’ it really is about how they run, not just marathons but many other events at different distances, from parkruns to ultramarathons. “Our approach to running and training is not strictly conventional” they explain in the introduction. “When we run together, we don’t always run alongside each other, but we’re there close by to share the experience, whether triumph or disaster (fortunately there aren’t too many of them).

“We have an amazing time running in the UK and many other parts of the world. We’d like to share some of our experiences, and hope you will find them informative, useful and entertaining”.

You can read their blog here and vote for them to win best blog (sports and fitness) here.  And you can read more about them on the This is Chiswick pages

Christ Church celebrates 175 years

Christ Church on Turnham Green is about to celebrate 175 years. As the introduction of the railway brought a huge new population to live in the area, so the only existing church, St Nicholas on Chiswick Mall, became full to bursting. Christ Church was the first of the Victorian era churches to be built to take the overflow,  commissioned in 1841 and completed in 1843 at a cost of £6,900; designed by the architect Gilbert Scott.

Turnham Green was less salubrious in those days, says current vicar Richard Moy, as the area to the north of the High Rd was famous for its washerwomen.

These days some 16,000 people pass through the church’s doors each year for all sorts of reasons, from toddler groups and youth groups to social events for elderly people. One major claim to fame is that parishioner Andre Lee organised a coalition of 15 churches in 2012 to create the Shelter Project. The churches take it in turns to open their doors to provide shelter and meals for homeless men for three months during the winter and help them find employment and permanent homes.  

The church has had a major refurbishment in recent years which gives it a cosy, modern feel inside. Hard to imagine now that in 1992 the Bishop of Kensington was minded not to renew the vicar’s living. He was persuaded otherwise and  Jim Dainty from Manchester took over. Ironically the congregation grew in number in the interim period when they were without a vicar! It continued to grow and Jim, says Richard, was known for his “firm hand on the tiller” to the extent that he measured with a ruler the space that there should be between the chairs. His successor Matthew Boyes became the chaplain at Feltham Young Offenders institution.

Clearly discipline has lapsed since Richard took over in 2012 as people seemed to be sitting anywhere, in a very relaxed and informal manner when I went in to see him. On his watch the church has managed to reclaim two other churches – St Albans and the Mission Hall on Cunnington St, which came close to being redeveloped as flats. To celebrate the 175th Birthday, Christ Church will be holding a special service this Sunday, 25 November at 10.30am to which everyone is invited.

Introducing … The Chiswick Collection

The Chiswick Calendar has got together with interior designer Angela Corden, painter Arabella Harcourt-Cooze and photographers Anna Kunst, Jon Perry and Barbara Chandler to create a beautiful set of items which would make lovely Christmas presents or would add a little something to your own home perhaps.

A beautifully presented boxed set of cards – cunningly designed with no writing in so you can use them as notelets or give them as a gift –  lampshades, placemats and coasters make up the collection. For more details have a look here.

Grenfell Inquiry

The last of the survivors of the Grenfell fire to give evidence at the Grenfell Inquiry did so on Friday. 

Andreia Perestrelo and her husband Marcio Gomes were among those to recall the events of that night. Mario called 999 as he made his way down from the 21st floor. He told the Inquiry how he had become separated from his wife and his two daughters. At one point he realised his girls were behind him when they had been initially in front. When the recording of the 999 call was played in court he could be heard shouting “Girls, come on, follow my voice.”

When his call came in, the fireman in the control room in charge of passing information from 999 calls to firefighters at the scene was Jason Oliff, a station manager at Chiswick. He gave evidence to the inquiry in July about how Mr Gomes, who was having trouble breathing in the smoke-filled stairwell, had asked the operator for advice. “I told the operator ‘tell him to go back and get his daughters’ he said. “I knew in saying this, that the male probably wouldn’t survive, but my thinking was that if it was me, I wouldn’t want to get out of that tower without my family and live with that for the rest of my life.”  It was an “impossible decision” he told the Inquiry, with “no right or wrong answer”.

On Friday Mr Gomes recalled turning around and starting to make his way back up to find his daughters. Mr Gomes told the inquiry: “I was panicking at that point because on the way down on the stairwell we had to go over bodies. “I stepped on some. I tripped… I tripped up on some. “So I started thinking that… that the bodies that I stepped over was my wife and my daughter. “So that’s why I kept shouting for my wife and wanted to go back up the stairs and find them. “I didn’t know where they were.”

In the event Mr and Mrs Gomes and their two daughters escaped with help from firefighters but their unborn son Logan was stillborn in hospital as a result of the smoke; the youngest of the fire’s 72 victims.

Firefighters from Chiswick were some of the first on the scene, though Mr Oliff was working from Stratford on the night of the fire.

Remembering the wars

My parents were of the wartime generation and as I was growing up we solemnly watched the Remembrance service on the television every year as a family. One year me or my sister said ‘do we have to watch this?’ in that bored, whiny teenage way; words that we instantly wanted to take back when we saw the impact like a physical blow, the hurt and grief on my mother’s face. She’d lost her first fiance and her brother to the war, my father two brothers.
So I think the way Chiswick churches have engaged with remembering the dead of the First World War is something to be proud of. I went to see My Darling Boy on Friday, written by Rev Martine Oborne and enacted by St Michael’s Players in St Michael’s Church, Elmwood Rd. She wrote it because she realised, preparing a Remembrance Sunday sermon five years ago, that we didn’t remember the men whose names were on the church memorial because we knew nothing about them.

Volunteers started researching their history and My Darling Boy weaves together several of their stories, written from their letters and their records. The stories are poignant; they were all so young, but the play, well written and well produced brought them close and made them real to us. It was gratifying to see that there were quite a few young people in the audience on Friday. It would be a great short play for youth drama groups. Maybe it should be required reading as part of the national curriculum. 

Remembrance – Photograph Romaine Dennistoun

St Michael and All Angels have also researched their war dead quite extensively. Their stories include that of the only woman on their memorial and can be seen in a display in the church over the next few weeks.

There’s a talk tonight at Godolphin and Latymer school by Elisabeth Shipton about the women who fought on the frontline during the First World War. Details here.

Thanks to Romaine Dennistoun for the photographs from Sunday’s memorial service.

Sexy laundry – Tabard theatre review

Go and see this very funny play at the Tabard. The poster makes it look a tad corny but it isn’t. It’s is a very witty, well written dissection of a marriage which anyone who’s been in a relationship for any length of time will relate to.

The play, by Canadian author Michele Rimi, is set in a trendy spa hotel where the couple, Alice and Henry, have gone to put a little sparkle in their relationship. Working their way through ‘Sex for Dummies’ they’re finding that after being married for 25 years rekindling the passion is proving hard work and the trite suggestions in the book are humiliating and ridiculous.

What to do? Throw in the towel (they’re far too thin for such an expensive place Henry says when he phones the manager to complain) or be happy with what they’ve got and their shared history together? In the hands of two very experienced actors, Felicity Duncan and Nick Raggett Sexy Laundry is an hour and a bit very well spent. 

Noel Fielding

Noel Fielding was there on the night I went. As one half of The Mighty Boosh he appreciates how hard it is to keep up the energy in a two hander when you’re both on stage all the time and the script requires fast delivery and a high octane performance. He was full of praise.


Visit parliament

It is Parliament Week apparently, the week in which we are encouraged to engage with the workings of our democracy.

It happens every year and this year of course it is focused particularly on Vote 100, one hundred years since Parliament passed the law which allowed the first women to vote.

Ruth Cadbury’s office duly contacted 40 schools in her constituency of Brentford & Isleworth in an effort to invite a committee member from each school’s PTA to come and have a tour of parliament and have the opportunity to discuss shared problems with other PTAs in the neighbourhood. How many responded? 12. 

I find it quite shocking that some schools don’t have fully functioning Parent Teachers Associations and even more so that those that do can’t be bothered to reply to their MP. They might at least drop her a line saying they are too busy washing their hair that day to have the opportunity to see parliament, to network and lobby for their school. 

Those who are going from Chiswick are Chiswick School, Belmont Primary School and St Mary’s RC Primary School. There’s a Parliament Week website, should you be looking to Engage, Explore or Empower and there’s also a schools Education Centre (0207 219 4496) if you wanted to take a school party. 

A bark chipping bed you could sleep on

After last week’s shout-out for volunteers to help Kathleeen Healy and the regular volunteers at Dukes Meadows park, I am happy to report that loads of people turned up and the adventure playground now has such a deep and luxurious bed of bark chippings you would almost want to fall off the climbing frame just to be enveloped in its earthy bosom.

Teams from Chiswick RFC, Old Meadownians FC, Chiswick Labour Party and the Hogarth Club all turned out to help as well as many individuals. The action shot below (bottom photo) is Jo from the Hogarth Club, getting stuck in. Perhaps next year it should be a competitive event – wheelbarrow trundling with extra points for precision tipping.

Photographs: Kathleen Healy – Dukes Meadows Trust, Ursula Stanton, Serena Hall, Henry Brown, David Waller, Ben Moos-Golding and Mary Brown – Labour Party – Jo – Hogarth Club

The Aftermath – the movie of the book by Rhidian Brook

I had the pleasure of interviewing Rhidian Brook three years ago during the Chiswick Book Festival. He’s a really interesting writer who lives locally. He’s written for TV drama and for newspapers and a succession of novels have met with huge critical acclaim, including his most recent, published this summer: The Killing of Butterfly Joe. His first novel, The Testimony Of Taliesin Jones (HarperCollins) won three prizes, including the 1997 Somerset Maugham award.

His book The Aftermath, about a woman who goes to join her husband, a British officer, in Hamburg in the aftermath of the war in 1946, has been made into a film produced by Ridley Scott and starring Keira Knightley, Alexander Skarsgård and Jason Clarke. It’s out in cinemas next March and the trailer has just been released.


Chiswick’s cause célèbre

The ‘Chiswick Oasis’, the living wall which parents at St Mary’s RC primary school are seeking to raise sufficient funds to build, has become a cause célèbre.

TV presenters Jeremy Paxman, David Dimbleby, Francesco da Mosto and Claudia Winkleman and actors Emma Thompson and Ciaran Hinds have all sent messages of support; the entire cast of Eastenders have signed a plaque which is to be auctioned to raise funds and the jeweller Swarovski, whose UK headquarters is in Chiswick, has pledged £10,000.

Andrea Carnevali, leading the campaign, says: “This has been an amazing week for this campaign. A campaign that really started off just with an frustrated tweet is now getting so much support that it’s really quite overwhelming”.

In the past week he’s been interviewed by the Metro on Monday, ITV on Wednesday and Sky News on Sunday.

But this is no time to get complacent. They still need to raise £11550 – £350 per day until the deadline to secure promised funding from the Mayor of London. So if you haven’t already pledged a tenner, go on to and do so at once. The biggest donation between Sunday night and Monday 19 at 11.59pm will bag the Eastenders name plate.

The reason for all this effort is that St Mary’s has been named one of the 50 worst polluted schools in Greater London, due to its proximity to the A4. A ‘green wall’ would apparently cut pollution levels in the school by 40%.

Andrea would love well-known Chiswick residents Colin Firth and David Tennant to support the Chiswick Oasis. I’m sure they are both avid readers of this newsletter, so come on guys, declare yourselves. And David, the people campaigning for the green wall are not the same as those who kiboshed your house extension. I’m sure the parents of St Mary’s would love you to have a swimming pool in the back garden too.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Mayor of London opens the Chiswick Oasis

See also: Chiswick Oasis appears to be working

Restaurant business ‘never tougher’ says Annie’s owner

Annie’s restaurant at Strand on the Green has come of age. Celebrating 18 years this year, the restaurant, with its tasty comfort food and homely decor, has become something of an institution in Chiswick. Those who have discovered the pleasure of eating in its relaxed atmosphere by the river tend to come back again and again.

Lorraine Angliss, its owner, was one of the first to join The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme (15% off lunch or dinner, Monday – Thursday). A canny businesswoman, she has build up a group of five restaurants since she opened Annie’s, all of them well reviewed and respected; but she says, times have never been harder in the restaurant business.

Lorraine Angliss talked to me about her career, her early days as a rock chick, her restaurants and why femininity has been the key to their success. You can watch the video here.

Eating out on Christmas Day? Book now!

I was talking to Fiona Sparkes, the General Manager of the Bell & Crown the other day and was surprised to find that they are already fully booked for Christmas Day. I had been thinking that October was too soon to mention the C word, but spurred on by that revelation The Chiswick Calendar has done a ring round the restaurants for you to see which are open on Christmas Day and who still has availability.

We’ve put together a guide to eating out in Chiswick over the Christmas season. There are some very attractive menus and competitive pricing. The Bell & Crown offers a two course meal throughout the Christmas season for £27.95, or three courses for £33.95. On select days they are offering a 20% discount (3 / 4 / 10 / 11 December) which they have extended exclusively to Club Card members on 19 / 20 / 26 / 27 November. If you’re having a group get together or office party especially, it’s worth comparing prices and seeing where you can use your club card. Take a look at our guide here.

What’s on in Chiswick this Christmas

We have published a Christmas What’s On – children’s theatre, classical music concerts, films, pantomimes, carol services. The Lyric, Hammersmith has a production of Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas; the Tabard theatre presents Stig of the Dump as its Christmas production.

Your Club Card will get you £4 off tickets at the Tabard, £6 tickets for Headliners Comedy Club on a Friday nights (less than half price), 20% off four tickets for Friday Nights Live at Watermans, as well as £6 cinema tickets on Tuesdays, 20% off tickets for After Dark at Chiswick House and 20% off tickets for  the street dance version of Scrooge with I.M.D. Check out the Club Card pages on the website for the offers.

Art for Sale

We have a new feature for Christmas – where to buy art locally. There’s no better present than a piece of art, so we’re putting together a Directory of Artists who live and work locally, including textile designers, ceramicists and jewellers as well as painters, whose work is for sale.

Some, like Joanna Brendon, whose painting of Dartmoor in winter is illustrated above, are having Christmas shows. Hers is Friday 30 November – Sunday 2 December at her studio / home at 9 Windmill Rd, W4 1RN where she will be showing with weaver Bobbie Kociejowski and jeweller Annette O’Sullivan in the Christmas Three open studio.

Bowl by Suzanne Katkhuda

Ceramicist Suzanne Katkhuda, who lives in Hammersmith, will be showing her ceramic homeware and jewellery at the Hepsibah Gallery, 112 Brackenbury Rd, W6 0BD from Thursday 15 – Saturday 17 November.

Suzanne Katkhuda at her Notting Hill studio

Suzanne is something of a celebrity in the world of interior design, as her ceramics have been commissioned by the Royal Academy and the National Gallery shops to accompany major art exhibitions and the V&A have chosen several of her pieces for their permanent collection. She has sold her work through stores such as Liberty’s, Next, Laura Ashley and Harrods and made dinner services as private commissions for Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsey and the theatre entrepreneur Cameron Macintosh.

Sam Pennington went to see her in her studio in Notting Hill and has writer a profile of the artist, which you can read here

Volunteers needed

Two of Chiswick’s favourite movers and shakers are looking for volunteers to do, well, some moving and shaking.

Kathleen Healy MBE, who heads up the Dukes Meadows Trust, which has redeveloped and now maintains Dukes Meadows park for the good of everyone, is looking for people to come and help out this Friday and Saturday (9 & 10 November), just for an hour or two, to shift a mountain of bark chippings.

In all the mayhem of Carillion going bust and new contractors being hastily found to take over their contracts with local authorities, the soft bed of bark chippings which keeps the adventure playground safe for children to play in has sunk very low. It needs topping up with a huge amount of bark chippings.

The problem is that the bark is being delivered by an articulated lorry which cannot get nearer than the park gates in Edensor Rd so help is needed to move 500 wheel barrow loads of chippings about 500 yards to the playground.

My maths isn’t great (as the eagle eyed spotted last week!) but 50 people would mean only ten trips each (I think!) Kathleen will be officiating, but it’s ok, I’m told her bark is worse than her bite. In fact, she’s promising coffee and doughnuts.

If you’re free, willing and able, turn up between 2.00 and 4.00pm on Friday or between 11.00am and 2.00pm on Saturday at the park gate next to Cavendish primary school on Edensor Rd.

Read more about Dukes Meadows Trust

Read more about Kathleen Healy MBE and Dukes Meadows Trust here

Help with tree planting

Two weeks later Karen Liebreich MBE, she of the Chiswick Timeline, fruit picking and sundry guerilla gardening projects, is looking for help with tree planting.

Her charity, Abundance London, has undertaken to make Harvard Hill park (just as you come off the M4, on the south side of the A4, opposite the Russian Orthodox cathedral) more interesting.

The idea is to create a ‘shelter belt’ – a line of trees and shrubs to create a bit of a barrier to the noise and pollution of the road and to provide a habitat for wildlife, particularly birds – in what is currently a pretty featureless bit of ground.

After taking advice from the Woodland Trust and local tree expert Steve Pocock, Abundance London has selected a ‘wild wood’ and ‘wild life’ mix which includes blackthorn, downy birch, silver birch, common oak, crab apple, goat willow (pussy willow), hawthorn, hazel, holly, rowan and three redwood trees.

All they need now is a few willing hands to help with planting. If you can, please go along and help on Monday 26 November between 9.30am and 2.00pm. Bring a spade, shovel and / or wheelbarrow. Wearing gloves, sturdy shoes and waterproof clothing is advised. Failing that just come along and encourage the planters!

Abundance has organised this in association with The Woodland Trust, LBH Parks’ Department, Falcons School for Boys and Grove Park School.

This is one of several projects Abundance has going in Chiswick currently. To read about the others please see Karen’s guest blog and if you shop at Waitrose, you can vote to support Abundance throughout this month.

Read more about Karen and about Abundance London

See our profile of Karen Liebreich here

Read a feature about the work of Abundance London here

ArtsEd new head of Acting


Sunday 11 November marks 100 years since the end of the First World War. As well as the usual Remembrance ceremony at the war memorial on Turnham Green there are a number of things happening in Chiswick to mark the centenary of the Armistice.

St Michael & All Angels Church has an exhibition commemorating those from Bedford Park who who died in the war. The exhibition opens on Friday 9 November in the church. Those remembered will include Mrs Violet Long OBE, Chief Controller of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, who drowned when the Ambulance Transport ship HMAT Warilda was torpedoed on 3 August 1918. She was 35 and the only woman remembered on the church’s memorials.

For details of all the Remembrance events, see the Remembrance page here.

Cafe Conversations gets its own website

A bright idea which occurred to Louise Kaye listening to a BBC Radio 4 programme about loneliness, has developed into a successful phenomenon – Cafe Conversations.

The idea is that rather than staring at your own four walls, twice a week, on Mondays at Avanti at Bedford Corner and on Wednesdays at the Grove Cafe in Grove Park, you should come and take part in a conversation.

This is not any old conversation you understand. Louise’s conversations aren’t about anything as mundane as the weather or as intrusive as yourself. Her cue cards, wielded by volunteer conversation starters, suggest topics on anything from  ‘What is the most annoying habit that other people have?’ to the Meaning of Life. (You can pick the topic – you don’t just get stuck with one). 

So far the sessions have been a resounding success, with up to 13 people turning up. People in other areas are beginning to take notice – there many be one soon in Richmond and she has been invited to talk about it in Cirencester. So Louise has set up a website with the ‘formula’ to help anyone who might like to start their own Cafe Conversation.

She swears it’s all quite self explanatory. You just have to look at the website: but if you would like to get in touch with her, to volunteer as a conversation starter or to ask more about it, you can do so through The Chiswick Calendar email

Cafe Conversations in Chiswick are Mondays, from 3.00 – 5.00pm at Avanti, Bedford Park Corner and Wednesdays from 3.00 – 5.00pm at the Grove Cafe, Grove Park Rd.

Ballet4Life classes for adults – all styles

Ballet4life offers a whole range of classes for adults from absolute beginners up to advanced, including Silverswans, as well as classes in a variety of other dance styles.

Tuesdays at 11.30am there’s a fun dance work-out for the over 50’s

Wednesday evenings at 7.45pm they hold a Ballroom and Latin Dance class with the talented dance champion Anca Nistor. They are looking into expanding this to include a one-hour social dance to follow the class in the new year.

Saturday mornings there is a unique and lively work-out on offer in the form of Character Dance Classes in addition to Beginner and Intermediate Pointe Work and the four levels of Adult Ballet.

Contemporary Dance is also on the programme and from January their Pilates® for dancers will return on Fridays from 2-3pm.

See all their classes here:

Ballet4Life classes – 20% discount

To celebrate their long history of local service to W4 and to encourage more people to get moving and dancing they are offering the Chiswick Club Card holders one free taster class and a hefty 20% discount to use at any of their classes/beginner courses held Monday – Saturday in Chiswick at Arts Ed, Bath Road, W4 1LY and the dance studio at St. Peter’s Hall, Southfield Road, W4 1BB. Please just quote 15AnniversaryOffer when contacting them on ballet4lifeuk1@gmail to book in. This offer will be valid from now until 31st January 2019.