Chiswick House loses one of its oldest trees

Chiswick House has lost one of its oldest trees in storm Eunice – a Cedar of Lebanon that was more than two hundred years old.

The Gardens lost four big trees in the storm on Friday (18 February), which is not bad considering there are some 1800 on the 65 acre site. The Cedar of Lebanon was near the Classic bridge.

“The whole top broke off and smashed a Lime tree below” Chiswick House gardeners told The Chiswick Calendar. Both trees were being removed on Saturday.

Georgina Sydenham and Chris Greer were at work on Friday checking the estate and in early on Saturday morning clearing dead wood from the paths.

“Our priority was making sure the paths are open, particularly in the Dukes Avenue entrance so the Duck Pond market could go ahead” said Georgina.

On Saturday a Yew tree was blocking the path between the cricket pitch and the Classic bridge.

“Half of it has sheered off but it will survive” she said.

Another Yew tree by the Italian garden was unsalvageable. The cedars and yews are the oldest trees in the Gardens, along with the Sweet Chestnuts on the bowling green. Some trees date back to the original planting by William Kent in the 1700s.

The fourth tree which was lost in the storm was an Ash tree in the middle of the Wilderness area between Burlington Lane and the south end of the lake. The top sheered off 15 metres up and they will need the assistance of specialist tree surgeons to remove it.

Chiswick House Members pay for tree upkeep

“We invested a lot of money in a tree survey lasts January” Georgina told us. “That gave us a list of priority jobs and we have been working our way through the list. That it took such a vicious storm for us to lose four trees shows that the routine maintenance we have been doing has paid off.”

Chiswick House Trust invests £650 a week on caring for the trees in the Gardens and would like to spend more, to move from maintaining the tree stock to more active tree management to improve the habitat for the mammals, birds and insects living in the woodland areas.

They pay for it by the money raised by Members of Chiswick House. Memberships pay for £4 out of every £5 needed to keep the gates open every day by paying for the overall upkeep of the Gardens.

Members enjoy unlimited visits to the House and Kitchen Garden, discounts at the Shop and Café, and get special access to events. You can sign up to become a member on the Chiswick House website.

chiswickhouseandgardens.org.uk

Director Xanthe Arvanitakis told us:

“The last few days have been very challenging, all our staff have got stuck in helping to check trees, support the gardeners and manage communications.  If it wasn’t for the incredible hard work, skill and diligence of our gardeners and our investment in surveying and caring for our 1,800 trees – the damage could have been a lot worse.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Fallen tree clearance hampered by strong winds

See also: Storm Eunice brings trees down in Chiswick and Acton

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Cheese market cancelled, other markets go ahead

Image above: Chiswick Cheese Market; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

The Chiswick Cheese Market, due to be held on Sunday 20 February has been cancelled because of the weather.

Organiser Lucy Cufflin said they had been keeping an eye on the progress of storm Eunice and were planning to make a decision at 4pm on Friday as to whether the market would go ahead. In the event, the decision was made for them, as Hounslow Council rang to say they were banning all outside events this weekend.

“We are really disappointed because we were full with 36 stall holders and we’re looking forward to seeing our regulars and some fabulous newcomers” she said, “but obviously we understand.

“It’s disappointing for our customers and for our traders, who often make special cheeses and special batches and they will lose out.”

Image above: Duck Pond Market; photograph Joanna Raikes

Duck Pond market goes ahead Saturday

The Duck Pond market in the grounds of Chiswick House is going ahead as usual. A notice on their website said:

‘Due to inclement weather and stallholder numbers we will not be opening Richmond or Chalfont market this Saturday. They are too exposed! We WILL be opening Chiswick on Saturday as we are in a more protected courtyard on hard ground.’

Image above: Food Market, Chiswick, Dukes Meadows

Food market to go ahead at Dukes Meadows on Sunday

Kathleen Healy, organiser of the Food Market Chiswick, confirmed that it would also be going ahead as usual from 10am to 2pm at Riverside Drive in Dukes Meadows. The forecast for that time is dry and 17 – 19 knot wind. Strong winds are forecast later in the day.

19-24 Mph 29-38 kph 17-21 knots Fresh Breeze Small trees sway. White crested wavelets (whitecaps) form, some spray. 25-31 Mph 39-49 kph 22-27 knots Strong Breeze Large tree branches move, telephone wires begin to “whistle”, umbrellas are difficult to keep under control.

“The question is, is it safe to go ahead, which is a risk assessment” Kathleen told The Chiswick Calendar.

“High winds aren’t forecast until 4, by when stalls will have packed up and gone and we’ve checked the area for storm damage and there is none that has made the area unsafe. We will continue to check weather forecasts and respond accordingly if it changes.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Storm Eunice brings trees down in Chiswick and Acton

See also: Chiswick House appoints a new head gardener

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

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Storm Eunice brings trees down in Chiswick and Acton

Image above: Tree down beside St Michael & All Angels Church, Bedford Park; photograph Peter Murray

Storm Eunice has brought several trees down in Chiswick and Acton.

A young tree has come down by St Michael & All Angels Church at the west end of the church overlooking The Avenue and Acton Green Common. Thanks to Peter Murray for the photograph. Another larger tree, taken by Andrew Walmsley, is blocking The Orchard in Bedford Park.

Image above: Tree blocking The Orchard in Bedford Park; photograph Andrew Walmsley

A big tree fell across Acton Lane in front of Ark Priory primary school this morning. Fortunately it is half term or the road outside the primary school would have been full of children and parents. This is the damage it did to the car it fell on.

Image above: Tree which fell across the road outside Ark Priory primary school, crushing this car; photograph by Dougal Shaw

Dougal also sent us this amazing shot of a broken tree suspended precariously outside Ark Byron Primary Academy in The Vale.

Image above: Broken tree suspended outside Ark Byron Primary Academy in The Vale; photograph Dougal Shaw

A fallen tree is also now resting on the roof of Turnham Green tube station.

Image above: Turnham Green Station; photograph Sara Sekelj

Parks in the area have been closed because of the danger of falling trees. Kew Gardens, Chiswick House and Gunnersbury Park all announced they would be closing on Friday 18 February as storm Eunice blows through.

The storm has also brought down quite a few fences, including this one in Bedford Park.

Image above: Fence down in Bedford Park; photograph Peter Murray

Image above: Workmen removing a fallen tree from Harvard Rd; photograph Paul Campbell

Images above: shared in social media; (R) Thorney Hedge Rd; photograph by Jennifer Griffiths

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick House appoints a new head gardener

See also: Chiswick residents vote for more cherry trees on Turnham Green

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Tree down outside Ark Priory primary school, Acton Lane

Image above: Tree down on Acton Lane

A tree has blown down outside Ark Priory primary school in Acton Lane. Fortunately it is half term or the road outside the primary school would have been full of children and parents.

Parks in the area have been closed because of the danger of falling trees. Kew Gardens, Chiswick House and Gunnersbury Park all announced they would be closing on Friday 18 February as storm Eunice blows through.

The Met Office has issued a rare red warning – the highest level warning for severe weather – for parts of south-west England and south Wales on Friday, meaning there is a danger to life from flying debris. It is expecting Storm Eunice will bring gusts of wind up to 90mph, causing significant disruption to transport networks and homes, with power cuts and train cancellations expected.

The Thames barrier will not need to operate during Storm Eunice, according to flood experts at the Environment Agency. The Forecasting and Response team say the tide level in the tidal Thames could be as much as 1.5m below published tide tables, as strong southwest/westerly winds are set to create a large negative surge for the Thames Estuary, pushing the water away from us.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Kew Gardens, Chiswick House & Gunnersbury Park close for storm Eunice

See also: Tube fares to rise by almost 5% in March

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

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How to judge when ageing parents need extra help

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Is It Time For Your Ageing Parents To Get Some Extra Help?
Ten Conditions That May Mean The Answer Is Yes

By care providers Home Instead

No one relishes the idea of their parents getting older. But at this time of life, many adult children find themselves in the unenviable position of having to watch over their parents’ declining health and to act accordingly to help their parents remain as independent as possible for as long as they reasonably can. Some parents accept this help from their adult children more gracefully than others.

Having factual, concrete information about the most common health conditions that may indicate your parents need extra help can assist you in talking to them and can also help you to make necessary decisions. Here are ten of the most common chronic health conditions ageing parents are most likely to face and what you should look out for to best assist your parents in living with one or more of these:

One – Heart Disease

Heart disease, as well as other cardiovascular conditions, is quite common in older people as a consequence of normal ageing. Heart failure, where the heart is not able to pump blood efficiently, blockages of the coronary arteries that increase the risk of a heart attack, and disturbances of heart rhythm, such as atrial fibrillation, are all frequently seen in older adults.

Cardiovascular conditions are often managed by multiple medications, such as anticoagulants, antiarrhythmics and diuretics to reduce fluid. These medications need to be carefully managed to make sure they are being taken as prescribed and in the case of an anticoagulant (blood thinner) that proper blood levels are being maintained.

Two – COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

COPD, also known as emphysema, is a debilitating lung condition characterized by shortness of breath on exertion as well as wheezing, frequent coughing, and tightness in the chest. Ageing adults who have COPD are also more likely to develop a collapsed lung, heart problems, and even a hole in one of the lungs’ air sacs. Emphysema is a progressive disease that gets worse over time, and most people at some point will need to rely on a home oxygen tank.

Because of the shortness of breath with activity, ageing parents may not be able to do the things around the house they used to do with ease, such as routine house cleaning chores, making beds, or even preparing meals. If your parent is on home oxygen, there is tubing to be kept clean, medication management and oxygen tanks to be maintained at a proper level.

Three – Cognitive Decline

A decline in brain function in ageing adults is all too common, with nearly twelve percent of adults over 65 suffering some form of subjective cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Alzheimer’s dementia and Lewy body dementia are all forms of declining brain function.

While symptoms are mild, many ageing parents can stay in their own homes until it becomes too dangerous for them to do so but will benefit from assistance with medication management, meal preparation, and grocery buying, as well as help with personal hygiene.

Four – Chronic Venous Stasis (CVI)

Chronic venous stasis, also known as chronic venous insufficiency, is a condition in which the valves in the veins of the legs malfunction, and blood does not travel from the legs back to the heart in an efficient manner. This causes leg swelling, pain, and intense itching. The skin on the legs becomes discolored and easily breaks down, even after a seemingly minor scratch or abrasion. These minor skin injuries can lead to painful ulcers which can take months to heal.

Older adults who have CVI often need help with keeping the skin on their legs and feet clean and hydrated. Compression stockings are often prescribed for this condition and can be very difficult for an older adult to put on properly. If a leg ulcer is present, it will need to be cleaned and dressed daily and carefully monitored for signs of infection.

Five – Sarcopenia

Sarcopenia is a common condition affecting older adults in which there is a substantial loss of skeletal muscle mass, leading to weakness, slow walking speed, and an increased risk of falling as well as sustaining a fracture.

Older adults who have sarcopenia may not be able to readily complete household chores, shopping, or carrying groceries and will need supervision in carrying out exercises prescribed by their physician to stabilize their condition.

Six – Declining Vision

Cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma (high inner eyeball pressure) are all common conditions associated with age-related vision decline. Vision loss, regardless of cause, can put ageing adults at a greater risk for falls, accidents, medication errors and even increase a person’s risk of developing depression.

Many older adults with declining vision need assistance with household chores, medications, meal preparation, and other tasks. They also benefit from interaction with others to prevent social isolation.

Seven – High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Blood vessels tend to stiffen as a person grows older, leading to high blood pressure with its increased risk of stroke and heart attacks. Careful medication management is a must and should be combined with a low sodium diet, exercise, and weight loss if indicated. Help with medications and taking blood pressure readings regularly at home are essential, as well as making sure your parent is adhering to the diet and exercise regimen prescribed by his or her physician.

Eight – Type 2 Diabetes

Ageing is a big risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes, which must be carefully treated and monitored to avoid serious complications such as heart disease, diabetic eye disease, stroke, poor wound healing, and other effects.

The older type 2 diabetic may find his or her condition too much to manage without assistance, especially if they must take injectable insulin or oral blood sugar-lowering drugs. Blood sugar levels must be carefully monitored and dietary recommendations, as well as exercise prescriptions, should be followed.

Nine – Arthritis

Osteoarthritis, also known as “wear and tear” arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis in older adults. Arthritis can result in chronic pain in older adults and can make simple household chores, such as opening a jar or sweeping, difficult due to pain. Arthritis in the knees can prevent bending or walking with ease and can increase the risk of falling. Regular movement and exercise are often prescribed and older people often need encouragement and companionship to do this regularly.

Ten – A Combination of Conditions

Unfortunately, many older adults suffer from not one, but a combination of the above health conditions, putting them at even more risk for falls, accidents, depression, and social isolation. Managing medications for multiple conditions can be overwhelming in such cases and can lead to unnecessary stress.

If your parent or parents are coping with any of these health conditions, they are at risk. If so, it may be time right now, before their condition progresses or they have a fall or make a serious medication error, to help them get the assistance they so need and deserve. We understand how difficult this conversation can be for both your parents and for yourself, as an adult child. But we also know that through our services, we can help to relieve some of the worry and concern that you naturally experience as your parents age.

We provide a wide variety of services, which can be adapted to fit your parents’ unique needs and these can range from just a few hours a day of assistance to 24 hours, seven days a week. Just click here to learn more about our company and our services. Our staff would be delighted to speak with you about your needs. Home Instead Hammersmith & Chiswick is located at 186 Sutton Ct Rd, Chiswick, London W4 3HR. You can ring us at 0208 746 1213 or contact us via email at hello@hc.homeinstead.co.uk

We look forward to speaking with you and learning more about how we can serve you and your parents to make sure they are cared for as they get older!

homeinstead.co.uk/hammersmith-chiswick

This page is sponsored content provided by care providers Home Instead

 

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Kew Gardens, Chiswick House & Gunnersbury Park close for storm Eunice

Image above: Chiswick House; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

Battening down the hatches for storm Eunice

Kew Gardens, Chiswick House & Gunnersbury Park will all be closed on Friday 18 February as storm Eunice blows through.

Gunnersbury Park put out a message on their social media on Thursday afternoon saying:

“At 10:30pm tonight we will close the park gates and the entire estate will remain closed over the weekend. We will be reviewing the situation on Monday and will make a decision then about when we can reopen safely.”

Chiswick House posted:

“Due to forecast high winds due to #stormeunice, Chiswick House & Gardens will be completely closed on Fri 18 Feb. We hope to re-open the gates by 8.30am on Sat 19 Feb, after our gardeners have completed a safety check to ensure there is no risk to visitors, staff & volunteers.”

Image above: Kew Gardens; photograph Emma Martin

Winds up to 90mph expected

Kew Gardens are saying:

“Due to the strong winds and wet weather forecast we have taken the difficult decision to close Kew Gardens on Friday 18 February to ensure the safety of our staff and visitors. Ticket holders will be contacted. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

The Met Office has issued a rare red warning – the highest level warning for severe weather – for parts of south-west England and south Wales on Friday, meaning there is a danger to life from flying debris.

It is expecting Storm Eunice will bring gusts of wind up to 90mph, causing significant disruption to transport networks and homes, with power cuts and train cancellations expected. Many schools are also closing as a precaution.

Image above: Chiswick House conservatory; photograph Nick Raikes

Chiswick House trees date back to 1720s

Chiswick House told The Chiswick Calendar they do not recall having to close the park for a weather event for at least two years. The gardeners at Chiswick House care for 1500 trees across the Gardens, which are home to bats, birds and insects.

The garden staff survey them and manage the growth under the trees to keep them healthy, as well as regular cutting back each autumn. The oldest trees in the gardens date back to the 1720s, when William Kent first worked on the Garden.

No need to raise the Thames flood barrier

The Thames barrier will not need to operate during Storm Eunice, according to flood experts at the Environment Agency. The Forecasting and Response team say the tide level in the tidal Thames could be as much as 1.5m below published tide tables, as strong southwest/westerly winds are set to create a large negative surge for the Thames Estuary, pushing the water away from us.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Tube fares rise by 5% in March

See also: Hounslow announces 3% increase in Council Tax

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Tube fares to rise by almost 5% in March

Tube and bus fares across London are are set to rise by nearly 5% next month, the biggest increase in more than a decade, as the body responsible for running the capital’s transport network struggles to plug a funding shortfall.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced on Monday (14 February) that from 1 March 2022, fares will rise by an average of 4.8 per cent, meaning most will increase by either 10p or 20p. Some bus fares will rise by 6.5%.

The Mayor’s office said ‘every effort’ had been made to keep this increase as affordable as possible for Londoners while helping to ensure that TfL can reach financial sustainability by April 2023.

This is only the second time that Transport for London controlled fares have increased since 2016, after the Mayor froze fares between 2016 and 2021. In the eight years prior to 2016, under Boris Johnson, TfL fares increased regularly and ultimately surged by more than 42 per cent.

Sadiq Khan blamed the row over the level of government funding for TfL, with the proportionate increase in tube prices the biggest since 2010, and the largest since 2009 on the bus network.

Tube fares solely within Zone 1 will increase for the first time in six years, from £2.40 to £2.50. Passengers who travel greater distances on TfL services will see a slight increase to further bring them in line with nearby National Rail fares. TfL say these increases are still significantly below what any cumulative increase would have been had fares been raised in line with inflation over the last six years.

The ‘Hopper’ fare, which was introduced in September 2016, remains meaning commuters travelling on bus and trams within an hour will only pay the price of a single fare. Since it was introduced, more than 600 million Hopper fare journeys have been made. All current concessions, including free travel for young people under the age of 18 and discounts for students, apprentices and those on certain benefits will remain in place.

Mayor blames Government for refusing to properly fund TfL

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said:

“Public transport should be affordable to all, and I’ve taken bold action to ensure this since I became Mayor by introducing the unlimited Hopper bus fare and freezing all TfL fares from 2016-2021 – saving the average London household over £200.

“Since TfL’s finances were decimated by the pandemic, the Government has set strict conditions as part of the emergency funding deals to keep essential transport services running in London. We have been forced into this position by the Government and the way it continues to refuse to properly fund TfL, but I have done everything in my power to keep fares as affordable as possible.”

Shashi Verma, Director of Strategy at TfL said:

“This fares package aims to keep fares as affordable as possible while still ensuring TfL can continue to run clean, green and safe services and support London’s continued economic recovery. Through daily and weekly capping, as well as the Hopper fare and our wide range of concessions, passengers can continue to get the best value fare by using pay as you go with contactless and Oyster.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Months of ‘transport misery’ look likely as more Tube strikes announced

See also: Hounslow announces almost 3% increase in Council Tax

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Andrea’s film review – Cyrano

Cyrano ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Too self-conscious to woo Roxanne himself, wordsmith Cyrano de Bergerac helps young Christian nab her heart through love letters. Out in cinemas from Friday 25 February.

Cyrano’s tragic-comedy seems to be one of those stories which keep on being remade from time to time, whether we think we need a new version or not.

My favourite version is possibly the French production with Gérard Depardieu from the ‘90s, but who I also have a soft spot for Steve Martin’s comedic take in Roxanne from 1987. And it was only last year that Netflix released The Half of It, a modern re-tale, with a gender-reversed twist to it.

For this latest adaptation, British director Joe Wright turns to a stage version of the story from 2018, bringing from it both Peter Dinklage and Haley Bennett who now are reprising their roles.

Joe Wright had already successfully adapted great classic to the screen like Pride & Prejudice in 2005 and Anna Karenina in 2010 and he also had plenty of experience in war dramas, with his Atonement (2007) and the Darkest Hour (2017), but he does have some “misfires” along the way too, like the terrible The Woman At The Window and the embarrassingly bad Pan (a retelling of Peter Pan, which so bad that it even made me wish I was watching Hook).

This latest one has some interesting elements in it, but unfortunately it is a rather uneven film which often seems to forget it’s supposed to be a musical and even when it does remember the songs are so unmemorable that you almost wish it were straight drama.

In a time of ultra-stylised and extremely well made musical (West Side Story, In The Heights and even Tick Tock Boom), you really have to up your game if you want to compete.

However what Cyrano has got going for itself is some great-looking production value: from the wonderful Sicilian locations to gorgeous sets and the costume design.

And of course at the centre of it all, Peter Dinklage’s performance, which really anchors the film and elevates it.

While of course a lot of people know Dinklage for Game of Thrones, he has been around for a quite a while. I remember his very amusing portrayal of a grumpy actor in the hilarious Living in oblivion (1995) and his impressive breakout role in the excellent Station Agent (2003), where for the first time he was given the chance to showcase a whole range of emotions beyond just his physical attributes.

Now with Cyrano not only he is showing us he can sing too, but he also reveals a whole new side of his persona: charismatic, charming, loving and unusually smiley!

By dismissing the long nose device the original story, (which is essentially a physical representation of the barrier between him and his love) and by using Dinklage’s short size instead as the reason for Cyrano feeling unworthy, the essence of the story changes very little. But, together with Dinklage’s performance, it adds a whole extra layer of emotional resonance, which almost breaks the fourth wall. It’s difficult not to think about what it must feel like to be him and the result is at times even more heart-breaking than I had remembered this story to be.

If only the film was able to capitalise on all that instead of rushing through that last act and wasting time in pretty mediocre songs, this would have been a much more memorable film.

Its cinema released was postponed to 25 February (from his mid-January slot), following the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

Cyrano is out in cinemas on 25 February.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

See also:  February Books by Annakarin Klerfalk

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

 

Twenty years of Chiswick Lifeboat Station – an interview with station manager Wayne Bellamy

Chiswick Lifeboat Station became operational in 2002, established as a result of the Marchioness disaster. The collision between two vessels on the River Thames in London in the early hours of 20 August 1989 resulted in the deaths of 51 people.

It was to be another 12 years before RNLI stations were established on the River Thames. Now the stations at Tower Bridge and Chiswick are the busiest in the whole of the UK and Ireland.

David Clarke, former lifeboatman at Chiswick Station talks to Wayne Bellamy, Chiswick RNLI Station Manager since it was opened in September 2001.

How long has it taken in the past to establish a new lifeboat station?

Normally it would take many years, most of this time would be carrying out risk assessments, gauging community support, assessing technical feasibility and suitable sites or buildings. Before a station becomes operational three months would be spent finalising recruitment of crew, procurement of boats and training.

When was the RNLI invited to set up a search and rescue service on the tidal Thames?

There were early indications in late 2000, but the formal request from the DoT (Department of Transport) and MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) came through in spring of 2001, initially with a November 2001 startup, which was very ambitious.

Before this there were a number of steps. Once there was the political willpower following a change of government, the Thames Safety Inquiry was set up in 1998. The presiding judge, Justice Clark, made many recommendations.

Most relevant to the RNLI’s involvement were  the recommendations for a specific risk assessment for a dedicated search and rescue service and to consider rearranging the coordination of how search and rescue on the Thames is conducted.

The initial assessments were organised by the PLA (Port of London authority) and subsequently taken over by the Department of Transport. Crucial to how the service operates today was research by the Institute of Naval Safety that led to a first attendance time of 15 minutes with a 25 minute requirement for a second vessel. The MCA was tasked to bring dedicated search and rescue coordination to the Thames and operate with the RNLI as they do on the coast.

Prior to 2002, search and rescue on the river was very fragmented and there was no overview. For the first time there was a clear picture of the need for a dedicated service that could respond to major incidents as well as dealing with day-to-day safety needs for the large variety of river users.

When were you recruited by the RNLI?

I had been a volunteer lifeboat crew in Canada, where lifeboats operate as coastguard auxiliaries. My day job was in the airline industry specialising in emergency planning. I worked around the world in North America, Asia and finally in the UK. I tried to join the RNLI when I moved to the UK, but at the time there was nothing available in West London where I lived and worked – so when I learned in July 2001 about the RNLI service on the Thames going ahead I jumped at the chance. I started in September 2001 to set up and manage the new Chiswick Lifeboat station.

What determined the number and placing of the four lifeboat stations?

To meet the 15 and 25 minutes response times it was clear that four stations would be needed. Their precise location depended on availability of suitable sites.

How was the choice of rescue craft made?

If the RNLI had suitable existing craft they would certainly have been chosen. However, in central and West London it was clear that none of existing craft were appropriate. To meet the short lead time an existing design was chosen. The E class is unique to the Thames  operations and is the fastest vessel in the RNLI fleet.

The Mark I was refitted once and was replaced by The Mark II E class in 2012, though one Mark I is still in service as a relief boat. Development work is proceeding on a future replacement. Alternative fuel options are being considered though none are yet fully established in marine use; in the search and rescue role reliability of the equipment is paramount.

How much training was needed before the service started?

Training of new crews started six weeks before the service became operational. Initially on the Orwell in Suffolk, then continuing in London, working on local knowledge. Chiswick lifeboat became fully operational on the 28th of December 2001, five days before its formal inauguration on 2 January 2002. Crews responded to nine incidents in that time.

What changes in the stations, boats and crews have been needed since the service started in 2002?

Teddington had a second boat and moved to new facilities, the E Class boats increased to crews of four. Tower lifeboat station moved from Tower pier to the floating station by Waterloo bridge. A replacement floating station is in currently under construction and will be installed by the end of 2022.

Gravesend station changed from E Class lifeboats to B Class Atlantics, as used all around the coast, due to the rougher conditions in the Thames estuary.

How does the RNLI relate to other agencies on the Thames – Police, PLA, Fire Brigade, Thames 21, passenger vessels etc?

The crew work with the other agencies every day and there are joint responses in many incidents. However the other agencies have their own a job to do and although they all operate under the International SOLAS (Safety of Lives at Sea) obligations they are not dedicated to search and rescue. All agencies meet together as the Thames Water Safety Partnership.

Did the RNLI expect the Thames lifeboats to be so busy?

The original estimate was 75 incidents per year for Chiswick and 100 for Tower. Chiswick reached 75 in its first 10 weeks and annually has averaged around 220 incidents over the last 20 years. Tower has averaged over 440 incidents each year.

What are the most notable incidents in the 20 years Chiswick lifeboat has been operating?

Of the  4000+ incidents carried out by Chiswick crews several stand out.

  • Incidents involving whales in 2006 and 2021, sadly both ended tragically.
  • Boat Race day in 2014 where we rescued 88 people stranded on the foreshore. This was particularly memorable for the success in forward planning. As a dedicated search and rescue group we are able to take time to consider different scenarios. In this case we had a plan to deal with that number of people and that plan was successfully implemented.
  • The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee pageant on the river stands out to me as I was one of four people organising the marine side of the pageant.
  • It is always particularly moving when someone whose life we have saved turns up unannounced to thank the crew and let them know how their life has turned around. Notable was Alan Bateman who visited the station nine years after he was pulled from the water. Alan Bateman’s recovery sparked a change to the RLNI’s approach to mental health and suicide. Such incidents are a symbol of the work we do, they trickle down to the entire crew and highlight the importance of what we can achieve.
  • The 8th of January 2013 always stays in my mind. On that day we recovered the bodies of two 17 year old boys who gone into the water in different locations a month earlier. Our crews had been searching every day and night. This incident showed that hard as we try we can’t save them all. It made me realise how close the line is between survival or not, and how we endeavour to keep everyone on the survival side of this line.

Since the RNLI search and rescue service on the Thames started in 2002, Chiswick Lifeboat has attended over 4,000 incidents, rescued over 1,800 people and saved 179 lives.

The RNLI remains a charity that relies entirely on voluntary contributions to continue its lifesaving work. Chiswick RNLI has an active fundraising group and is always keen to have new helpers from the local community.

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Andrea’s film review – Death on the Nile

Death on the Nile ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

While on vacation on the Nile, Agatha Christie’s famous detective Hercule Poirot must investigate the murder of a young heiress. Available to watch in cinemas now.

This is Branagh’s second attempt to adapt an Agatha Christie novel. The first time the result was stylish, star-studded, but ultimately lifeless and really rather pointless remake of the classic Murder on the Orient Express. The huge disappointment I felt watching that film, set the bar for Death on the Nile rather low and probably helped making it a little bit more digestible for me.

Over all it’s an old-fashioned film, both in its construction and its pacing, a bit ploddy and packed with rather dubious computer-generated imagery (mainly to reproduce its Egyptian settings).

The script is very much focused on following the original material pretty closely, despite some minor tweaks to here and there, mainly to do with some characters: different nationalities and skin colours for a start, whilst some have been completely cut out (possibly to allow more screen time to the main stars) and others have been swapped about.

For example, a novelist has now become a Blues singer, which allows the film to give us a couple of musical numbers.

None of the above changes the fact that most of these are clearly the stock characters who we’ve seen hundreds of times before. Branagh’s desperate attempts to make it feel more “modern” and “inclusive” by including for example a quick reference to lesbian love (so fleeting that it actually feels rather pointless), do little to elevate the source material beyond the actual whodunit mystery.

To me the stiffness and two-dimensionality of these characters does expose how dated the main source material is for today’s standards. Agatha Christie was a real pioneer in her days, over a hundred year ago. But her thrilling stories and mysteries have been copied over so many times by now, that sadly they seem to have lost some of that sparkle, that originality and the shock value they used to have.

In fact I’d go even further and suggest that if you’ve seen enough of these crime stories, it might be even easy to work out who the murderer is, even if you haven’t read the book or seen the previous film.

It’s difficult these days to watch Death on the Nile without thinking of the Christie-inspired Knives Out by director Rian Johnson, which with its clever writing, quirky performances, and sharp humour re-wrote the whole rulebook of the game and set new levels for the genre.

Branagh adds few surprises here and there. For example, without giving much away, there’s even an extra murder added to the mix, but the biggest and possibly most intriguing (and controversial!) change has to do with attempt to give Poirot a backstory and a girlfriend, hence a whole extra new layer of emotions to a character who up to now was rather devoid of any characteristics beyond his intelligence and great sense of observation.

One may argue why add all this, if it was never there in the book and nobody even asked for it? But whilst I’m sure this move will have some of Christie’s fans screaming “heresy!”, I actually thought it was an interesting direction, especially in a story where the murder is all about “passion” and “love”.

Alas Branagh, however much he is inhabiting his character quite comfortably by now, cannot quite integrate this backstory into the main murder mystery itself.

In the end he doesn’t really do much with any of this, aside from explaining the origin of the signature moustache, which incidentally in this film has been subtlety tweaked a bit, making it slightly smaller and less ugly to look at.

One can only hope that by the third time (will it be Evil under the sun? The bets are on) Branagh would have learnt all the lessons from his previous failings and will eventually be able to offer a great film. But for the time being this is just about “fine”.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

Death on the Nile is available to watch in cinemas, including Chiswick Cinema, now

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

See also:  February Books by Annakarin Klerfalk

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Chiswick House appoints a new head gardener

Image above: Rosie Fyles

Chiswick House & Gardens has appointed Rosie Fyles as their new Head of Gardens. Rosie has been the Head Gardener of Ham House and Garden, a National Trust garden on the banks of the River Thames near Richmond, for the last six years.

Previously she had a career in communications including running her own agency and working internationally with FTSE 100 organisations, before retraining in garden management.

She has wide experience of leading a garden that is open to the public and has been a National Trust ‘Garden Champion’, providing guidance to other head gardeners. At Ham House Rosie and her team have received numerous accolades for their transformative, creative and nature-friendly gardening in an historic context, appearing widely in broadcast and print media.

Rosie has written for The Sunday Times and Gardens Illustrated and has just finished a monthly series on historic gardening styles for Period Living magazine. She is a Trustee of Silent Space, a charity that promotes peaceful time in green spaces.

Image above: Camellias in bloom at Chiswick House conservatory

Xanthe Arvanitakis, Director of Chiswick House & Gardens Trust, said:

“I am delighted Rosie has agreed to take up the Head of Gardens role at such an important time as we recover from the impact of the pandemic. I’m really looking forward to working with Rosie to explore how we can enhance our biodiversity and be more nature-friendly whilst continuing to care for our historic gardens.”

Rosie Fyles said:

“I’m really excited to come across the Thames to Chiswick and contribute to the great work taking place to develop and enhance such a beautiful, historic and popular place that is right at the heart of a local community.”

Rosie starts as Head of Gardens at Chiswick House & Gardens on 20 April.

Her predecessor Geraldine King left in January to take up a post at Rosemoor RHS Gardens in Devon. She led Chiswick House’s team of gardeners to win Heritage Park of the Year four times in a row (2016 – 2019) in the London in Bloom competition.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Estate garden manager Geraldine King to leave Chiswick House

See also: You’ll have to be organised to see the Chiswick House camellias this year

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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The Hogarth Club hosts an exhibition of aboriginal art 

Image above: Aboriginal art from the AA London Gallery in Devonshire Rd, on show at The Hogarth Club

Vividly coloured patterns which tell a story of dreaming and lands far away

The Hogarth Club has an exhibition of aboriginal art work on until 31 March 2022, showing work from the AA London gallery in Devonshire Rd, Chiswick. The Hogarth Club is open to non members to use the bar and view the art work.

The AA London gallery in Devonshire Rd adds an unexpected culture to Chiswick. Unexpected because there are not that many galleries in London which stock the work of indigenous Australian artists.

Gallery owner Hugo has been collecting Aboriginal art since the early 1990s, having been on several trips to Australia. About half the work on show at the gallery (the ‘AA’ stands for ‘Aboriginal Art’) is from there, the rest is other contemporary art from this country: glass, wood sculptures, ceramics, prints and paintings.

Image above: Hugo at the AA London gallery in Devonshire Rd

Originally from Madeira, Hugo travelled the world as a professional dancer on cruise ships before settling to becoming an art collector. He first started selling work online, taking part in the Battersea Art Fair online in 2020 and opening the art gallery in Devonshire Rd in March 2020 – five days before the first Covid lockdown.

That the gallery has survived is a minor miracle. In part it’s because of the pigs, he says. John Barrett-Danes ceramic pigs are always in the window. “They always make people smile” says Hugo.

He stocks other local artists – pots by Roz Wallis, whose studio Chiswick Pots is in Dukes Meadows; prints by Rennie Pilgrem, who regularly takes part in Artists At Home open studios; paintings by Humphrey Bangham, who takes part in The Chiswick Calendar’s Chiswick In Pictures art exhibitions.

But it is the Aboriginal Art which catches the eye – large canvases covered in dots and symbols which each tell a story. Hugo sells the work of the Numina family – six sisters who all paint. Their aunt Gloria, who died recently, was one of the foremost artists in Australia. Internationally recognised, one of her paintings was chosen by Hermes for reproduction on a scarf.

Their mother Barbara Pananka is also well-known in Australia. She grew up in Stirling Station, a cattle station near Tennant Creek where she learned traditional art from parents. She now lives with her daughters – Louise, Lanita, Sharon, Selina, Jacinta and Caroline, in Alice Springs.

“They all paint in different styles” Hugo told me.

Barbara Pananka’s website explains how Aboriginal women have their own ceremonies in which a series of song and dance cycles tell of the Ancestral Beings who walked the earth teaching women’s law and ceremony to isolated groups living throughout the desert.

‘Each tribe has its own set of women ancestors with different stories, designs and dances, but most of the ceremonies have one theme common to all groups – that of food gathering as the most important part of women’s lives.’

The Numina sisters’ work is contemporary, but informed by the forty thousand year Dreamtime histories.

You can see their work at AA London gallery, 24 Devonshire Rd, W4 2HD or at The Hogarth Club, Airedale Avenue, W4 2NW, until 31 March 2022.

Images above: Work by the Numina sisters 

Images above: Ceramic pigs by John Barrett-Danes; wooden bowls by Anthony Fortune

Image above: The AA London Gallery on Devonshire Rd

aalondongallery.com

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick residents vote for more cherry trees on Turnham Green

See also: Tracey Emin among prominent women artists in Chiswick Auctions Urban & Contemporary Art sale

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Brentford 0, Crystal Palace 0

Images above: Heads you win: Rico Henry eyes the prize; ‘Please put your boots on!’ Christian Erikson arrives on Brentford turf

Christian Eriksen must have been moved by the warm reception from both sides that greeted his first appearance at the Community Stadium since signing for Brentford. Sadly, this visit was only so the fans could welcome the Danish international, who eight months ago suffered cardiac arrest when playing for his country. But what Eriksen, having perambulated back and forth across the pitch, thought of the scrappy, indecisive game that followed was not made public.

With Ivan Toney once again unavailable for Premier League action – his ‘minor calf strain’ could not have been as minor as Thomas Frank thought – Bryan Mbeumo was accompanied up front by Yoane Wissa, a willing enough partner but not one of the quality Mbeumo has come to expect.

With both sides hovering uncomfortably close to the relegation contenders at the foot of the table, the football they provided looked as if born of desperation rather than skill. Palace commanded more possession and offered more joined-up football, but not much.

Brentford, as ever, delivered commitment and guts by the bucket-load; rarely pretty but occasionally effective enough to make the Palace’s defence’s teeth rattle. The Bees’ own rearguard remained mostly solid, even if David Raya’s unsettlingly propensity to distribute the ball dangerously close to an opposition player is always in one’s thought.

Image above: Trying to turn the game: Bryan Mbeumo in the thick of it

So what was there to like? Mbeumo’s relentless determination, which might well have been more fruitful if Raya and the back three had not insisted in flighting balls too high for his diminutive stature to deal with. Kristoffer Ajer’s commanding presence, both in defence and when running at the opposing defence with a determination that made them blink. Mathias Jensen, especially in the second half when he became a commanding playmaker-in-chief at the heart of midfield.

Chances were few at both ends of the pitch. Mbeumo came close to beating goalkeeper Vincente Guaita in a goalmouth scramble, Pontus Jansson saw his powerful header saved by the keeper, Ajer, his composure lacking for once, sliced a shot towards Ealing. At the other end, Wilfried Zaha was a constant irritant but not one that bothered keeper or defenders overmuch.

As ever, there was controversy, but fittingly for a dull game nothing to get really excited about.

Image above: Duel: Crystal Palace’s Conor Gallagher takes on Vitaly Janelt

Brentford seemed to have a good case for a penalty when Palace’s Marc Guéhi jumped high to palm the ball down, only for referee Darren England to rule that Christian Nørgaard had pushed he defender in the back. VAR confirmed this, although the replay showed Nørgaard’s touch was feather-light and unlikely to disturb a butterfly.

Palace’s turn to express horror at a referee’s decision came in added time when Zaha hit the ground under Rico Henry’s challenge. Again the VAR dismissed claims for a penalty and the game ended with nobody satisfied and few feathers ruffled.

Thomas Frank expressed pleasure at the capture of a point after a string of defeats and also the team’s first clean sheet since beating Everton 1-0 last November. Next Saturday Brentford travel to face Arsenal, the side they beat memorably on the first day of the season. Bringing home a point and a clean sheet from the Emirates Stadium will be a different class of triumph.

What a disappointment, I ventured to my mate Charlie. Not good enough football for the Premier League and worrying that Toney’s absence and Eriksen’s lack of match fitness seem devastatingly costly as we face the long slippery slope towards the end of the season.

‘You have a point,’ said Charlie. ‘But only one.’

Image above: Up and under: both Pontus Jansson and Ethan Pinnock hope to be the corner’s target.

Brentford: Raya; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Canós (substitute Baptiste 86), Jensen, Nørgaard, Janelt (sub. Dasilva 61), Henry; Mbeumo, Wissa (sub. Ghoddos 82).

Crystal Palace: Guaita; Ward, Andersen, Guéhi; Mitchell, Gallagher, Hughes (sub. McArthur 66), Schlupp; Ayew (sub. Olise 78); Édouard (sub. Mateta 72), Zaha.

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor of the Bees United supporters’ group.

Photographs Liz Vercoe.

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Man in the Middle 83: The lady of the lake

Man in the Middle is the fictional diary of a Boomer coping with the demands of an ageing mother with dementia, his millennial children and his own impending obsolescence. Bowed down by Brexit, Covid and self-pity, all he wants is more ‘me time’. Will he succeed? Or is he destined to be stuck forever in No Man’s Land in the war between the generations?

If you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here

No 83: The lady of the lake

At the nursing home my mother, like an eccentric monarch interrogating a much-missed servant, starts hurling questions at me before my feet have even stepped over the threshold of her room.

Her questions merge into one wall of sound, one current of untamed thought. If I tried to write down her words as they cascade from her they would form one fluid sentence like Finnegan’s Wake or another such impenetrable Modernist novel.

This is going to be one of her bad dementia days. But, as I sit down on her bed, one question becomes crystal clear because she keeps repeating it.

‘Who was that woman you were with here with last night?’ she asks.

She’s trying to hide it, but her voice betrays her. She’s anxious and I’m taken aback.

‘What on earth are you talking about?’ I say.

‘Who was that woman you were with here last night?’ she repeats.

‘I wasn’t here last night, mum.’

‘Yes, you were,’ she says. ‘I saw you and her. And I didn’t like the look of her one little bit.’

When she is anxious or deluded, I lower my voice and call her Mum. Not Mother. Or her first name. Mother is too cold and the second too informal, though I can’t explain why.

I don’t know if calling her ‘mum’ has any calming effect either. But it reminds me of the voice I used to put on when the children were very young and needed baulking up against a bad dream. Only with her it feels insincere and patronising.

‘I wasn’t here last night with another woman, mum.’

She stares at me from her armchair for a few moments. It feels to me her mind is churning matters over like a washing machine with dirty laundry.

I pull off my blue gloves and hang my F94 covid mask from my right ear, where it swings like a door off its hinge. Outside her window, there’s a tomato plant leaning against the pane brown and cracked.

‘Honestly, mum. I. Was. Not. Here. Last. Night. With. A. Woman.’

‘She’s not your new bit on the side, then?’

My new bit on the side? How many bits on the side does she think I’ve got time for? She must think I’m Casanova or Boris Johnson? For a moment I am insulted and angry.

But the feeling morphs and emerges as a strangulated laugh. This is a fantasy fueled accusation and in the land of the ludicrous, laughter is the only sane response.

‘Haaaaa.’

‘What’s so funny,’ she asks, straightening up in her chair.

‘The only thing I have ever had ‘on the side’ is a Yorkshire pudding with my Sunday roast,’ I say.

‘You talk nonsense.’

‘Touché,’ I reply and lie back on her bed, wondering where this absurd conversation will go next.

As my mother goes on about ‘women of the night’ renting rooms at her nursing home for ‘their nightly tricks’ I close my eyes. As I sink into sleep I don’t feel rude or guilty for ignoring her, just pleased my body has decided to shut off the pain of listening to her like this any longer.

*

Half an hour later, I wake up. Mother is asleep upright in her chair. Someone on the TV is wittering on about how bloody wonderful Cornwall and all its fish are.

When I look up, I see it’s Rick Stein simpering away again. When will he stop? How many more series about beer battered Cornish cod can the world stomach?

The short kip has put me in a better mood. But I haven’t fully recovered from being woken up at 4.30am by my wife blow drying her hair as she prepared to catch an early morning flight to the Caribbean to see her family, or from the boozy farewell dinner the night before.

My mother turns her head towards me and asks about my son.

‘What is B- up to?’

‘He’s been working as an extra in a TV series this week,’ I say.

‘He’s always wanted to be an actor, hasn’t he?’

‘I don’t know about that. But it’s a great experience for him.’

‘Oh, yes. He’s such a good-looking boy, he’ll do well.’

She looks at me as if she is trying to remember something. Perhaps, the conversation about my ‘bit on the side’?

‘Have you seen your father recently?’ she asks. ‘I wonder why he doesn’t come to see me.’

She asks me this every second or third time I visit her. My father died in 2007. Sometimes I ignore this question and change the subject. Other times, I remind her that he is dead. One is a deceit, the other a form of brutalism. I usually opt for deceit.

My phone pings. It’s a message from my son asking if I want to join him for lunch. If I want to catch him, I’ll have to go immediately. I’ve been with mother less than an hour and been asleep for half of that time. My visit is as cursory as a care visit can get.

Mother looks at the clock.

‘Do you want to stay for lunch,’ she asks.

‘I have to go. To see B- before he goes back to university. I’m sorry.’

She looks at me quizzically. I am not sure if she is weighing up the choice I’ve just made between my son and her and is disappointed. Perhaps she’s just still waking up.

‘Send him my love,’ she says and smiles.

In the doorway, I turn around. She is still beaming, cheerful. Her dementia has lifted like a fog taking with it the anxiety of this morning’s delusions and I can see the woman she once was waving encouragement to me like a refugee on the far shore of a lake. I understand, she says. Go now. Go. Before the fog returns.

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the next in the series – Man in the Middle – A month of birthdays

Read the previous one – Man in the Middle – The cost of fixing kitty

See all James’s Man in the Middle blogs here

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

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Speciality food shop Manor Springs joins the Club Card

Image above: Manor Springs, speciality food shop, 286 Chiswick High Rd

We are delighted that Manor Springs is joining our Club Card scheme. The shop at 286 Chiswick High Rd is a specialist food store selling artisan groceries and provisions, craft beers, fine wine and eco-friendly household product refills.

The manager Miranda has dealt in speciality foods for nearly 20 years and favours small independent producers, a lot of whom she has visited personally to see the products made.

“People who really know their food tend to come to us” she told me. “A lot of the products we sell are not available elsewhere on the high street.”

You will find hummus make in Leyton, Heart and Soul’s crunchy peanut butter, made in Hackney, which does not use palm oil; Origin Kitchen’s cashew based spreads – creamed cashew basil pesto / creamed cashew sundried tomato, creamed cashew mushroom & dill, rich, nutritious and a sustainable alternative to dairy – “their products are outstanding” she says.

She stocks a huge range of chillies – Kashmiri, Punjabi, Sannam, Urfa – one that Yotam Ottolenghi uses a lot – all sorts of olives and wine from very small vineyards in France.

Manor Springs is an independent store, she says “with a very close relationship Hatton Hill Organic, who provide our herbs and spices.”

Speciality products are Miranda’s speciality, having run many such food stores over the years in east London. She seeks out produce like baobab jam, made by Eliza Jones. whose company Chosan brings the fruits and flavours of West Africa to the UK.

She has a variety of speciality coffees and teas, including ‘Nude espresso’, roasted in Brick Lane and the fabulously named ‘Perky Blenders’ from Waltham Forest.

She has been stocking craft beers Kernel and The Signature Brew since when they first started. She also stocks Club-Mate – as in Mate, a century-old plant from the jungle in South America – a soft drink made in Germany. Some Club-Mate bottles include the slogan “man gewöhnt sich daran” which roughly translates into a challenge to the drinker of “one gets used to it.”

If you are interested in widening your food shopping horizons with some ethically sourced, quality foods and you like to know a bit about when your food comes from, check them out. And don’t forget to take your Club Card. Miranda is offering The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card holders a 10% discount on all purchases until the end of February.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Fuller’s Griffin brewery celebrates 30 years of brewery tours

See also: Why Afaf Belcaid gave up being an engineer to set up dance2happy

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

 

Chiswick residents vote for more cherry trees on Turnham Green

Image above: Cherry trees on Turnham Green

90% in favour of cherry trees in public consultation

Chiswick residents have voted massively in favour of the council planting more trees on Turnham Green, and in particular for planting more cherry trees.

LB Hounslow opened the planting plan out to public consultation after plans to add to the existing avenue of cherry trees became controversial in 2020. Friends of Turnham Green voted by a majority of 75% at their AGM to add to the avenue, an individual donated £5,000 to cover the cost, the trees were bought and with the parks department’s blessing and volunteers were all set to plant them.

The initiative came to a thundering stop when Cllr Joanna Biddolph ‘called in’ the decision the day before the trees were due to be planted, forcing the council to postpone the planting, which in effect meant stopping it, as saplings need planting in the spring.

READ ALSO: Life is just a bowl of cherries, not

The cherry trees were planted elsewhere, the donor refunded and Friends of Turnham Green went into abeyance while they were reconstituted and held fresh elections, as it was alleged the AGM vote had been undemocratic.

The chair of Friends of Turnham Green, environmentalist Rebecca Frayn, was re-elected with an overwhelming majority. Jill Spencer, who had called on the councillor to intervene and then stood against Rebecca for election as chair, polled only 21%.

Image above: Cherry trees on Turnham Green

Two years on, the Council decided they would seek a mandate for planting trees in a public park (the first time I have heard of this in 40 years in journalism). The public was asked to vote on the Council’s Tree manager’s proposals for each part of the Green. Almost 400 people took part – 396 online and three on paper.

The result – a minimum of 81% respondents were in favour of more tree planting, rising to 90% in favour of particular species at specific locations. 89.90% liked the idea of adding more Cherry Prunus avium plena trees to the avenue. The consultation ran for eight weeks between 17 November 2021 and 7 January 2022.

Hounslow’s assistant director for the environment, Wayne Stephenson, told The Chiswick Calendar they do not undertake consultations about tree planting as standard:

“but wherever plans are controversial and where it’s going to change the fabric of the location we do consult.”

Is tree planting often controversial? “No it isn’t”

And how much did it cost us to confirm what the Friends of Turnham Green wanted all along and what councils usually feel confident enough to decide for themselves?

“About 36 hours of officers’ time. in the region of £2,000.”

Image above: Rebecca Frayn, Chair of the Friends of Turnham Green

“Delighted the whole saga can be put behind us”

Friends of Turnham Green say they are delighted ‘Cherrygate’ is coming to a close and they can get on with planting. Chair Rebecca Frayn said:

“We are delighted by these results which are a great step forward for this much loved park and will make a valuable contribution to the climate crisis. It’s a great pity we were forced to delay planting by two years, but I’m delighted we can now go forward. I hope that with the planting of the new trees – now democratically endorsed twice over – the whole saga can be put behind us.

“Much time, money and goodwill has been squandered by the actions of Cllr Biddolph, actions which raise serious questions about her suitability to represent the community given her on-going
opposition to popular local initiatives, green enterprise and democratic mandates.”

In December Rebecca launched a furious attack on Cllr Biddolph, calling her behaviour “undemocratic” and “deranged” when Cllr Biddolph criticised the consultation process, wanting it to be totally open for residents to suggest plants.

Rebecca said the work of her group of community volunteers was being made “increasingly untenable” by the “high handed autocratic and self-serving behaviour” of the councillor.

READ ALSO: Environmentalist Rebecca Frayn attacks Chiswick councillor Joanna Biddolph’s “undemocratic” and “deranged” behaviour

Cllr Biddolph appeared to be on a “one woman mission to prevent any new tree planting on Turnham Green” and was “apparently prepared to go to quite extraordinary and undemocratic lengths to achieve this goal.”

Image above: With homage to Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Like Monty Python’s black knight ‘picking a completely unnecessary fight’

On publication of the Council’s consultation, Friends of Turnham Green secretary Ed Stanley said:

“Cllr Biddolph does looks a bit like the black knight in Monty Python; picking a completely unnecessary fight with King Arthur who proceeds to chop off his arms and legs in a sword fight.

“Limbless and undeterred, he still screams ‘come back and fight you bastards’. Maybe she is blogging somewhere that ’tis but a scratch.”

LB Hounslow says the planting will now go ahead in March. By the end of March we should have an Indian Bean tree, a Tulip tree, Foxglove and Magnolia, Lime, Elm, Whitebeam, Crab apple and cherry trees added to the Green.

Hounslow Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure Services, Councillor Samia Chaudhary, said:

“We believe that any opportunity to gain the views of residents and community groups on projects such as this is positive. We believe in working in partnership with our communities towards our shared goal of making Hounslow a cleaner, greener and healthier place to live.

“It is great news that residents have confirmed their support for this project through the consultation. We are now looking forward to seeing this tree-planting project take shape.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: New head at ArtsEd day school wants better links with the community

See also: Months of ‘transport misery’ look likely as more Tube strikes announced

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Cheesewick recipes – Macaroni cheese

Chiswick has a monthly cheese market on the third Sunday of the month. To entice you to come and try out different cheeses, the organisers are offering their top recipe recommendations in collaboration with cookbook website ckbk.com

Here’s Neil Perry’s recipe for Macaroni cheese from The Food I Love, published in 2005.

‘This is such a great dish to make. You can have a mac and cheese (as the Americans say) all by itself or as a side dish. I once had a roasted guinea fowl for two with truffled macaroni cheese at the legendary Joel Robuchon restaurant in Paris – now that is pure indulgence – but there is nothing stopping you from roasting a chook and throwing together a side of macaroni cheese to go with it. The most important thing is to use good-quality cheese and bacon and you can’t fail.’

Preparation information

Serves four people – easy to make

Ingredients

  • 400 g (14 oz) dried macaroni
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 rashers smoky bacon, diced
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) pure (whipping) cream
  • 125 g (4½ oz/1 cup) grated good-quality Cheddar
  • 250 g (9 oz/2 cups) grated good-quality Gruyère
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 80 g (2¾ oz/1 cup) fresh breadcrumbs
  • 100 g (3½ oz/1 cup) finely grated Parmesan

Method

Put the macaroni in a saucepan with plenty of boiling salted water and cook for 8–10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and refresh in iced water, then drain again and pat dry with a cloth or tea towel.

Heat a little extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until golden. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Add the cream to the same pan, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the cheeses, garlic, mustard and paprika and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring, until the cheese has melted and the sauce is thick. Season and add the macaroni and bacon. Preheat the grill (broiler).

Place the macaroni mixture into four bowls or one large gratin dish. Mix the breadcrumbs with a little oil. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the macaroni, then the breadcrumbs. Grill (broil) until golden brown and with a crisp crust.

Variation

Add flavourings to the macaroni: assorted mushrooms, sautéed in butter, oil and garlic, are nice; as is braised cabbage, mixed through and the whole thing gratinéed. Vary the cheeses – there are lots of choices and they are all yours.

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Cheese Market

See also: Chiswick Cheese Market – with 150 artisan cheeses, what to choose? – Guest blog by market organiser Lucy Cufflin

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Episode 78: English cricket’s biggest and longest crisis: economic inequality

Cricket authors (and obsessives) Peter Oborne and Richard Heller launched a podcast early in 2020 to help deprived listeners endure a world without cricket. They’re no longer deprived of cricket, but still chat regularly about cricket topics with different guests each week – cricket writers, players, administrators and fans – hoping to keep a good line and length but with occasional wides into other subjects.

Mohammed Sadiq Patel is a long-serving activist for equality in sport – and the rest of life. As a lawyer he has pursued some notable cases in the cause and as a charitable entrepreneur launched some important initiatives. He is the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast.


More Platforms

Mohammed begins by explaining his involvement as a solicitor in the legal actions against the England and Wales Cricket Board brought by the two umpires, John Holder (a previous podcast guest) and Ismail Dawood. He believes them more representative of the crisis over discrimination in English cricket, and of the workings of the Board, than the more widely followed case of Azeem Rafiq. Although aware that their actions were out of time, they had brought them to highlight long-standing failures towards minority ethnic people in the ECB’s recruitment and management of match officials, and to accelerate the promise of reform. While not downplaying the experience of Azeem Rafiq, Mohammed says that he could give worse examples in English cricket, and notes that he benefited from a major shift in media and public attitudes to alleged racism in the light of BlackLivesMatter.

He believes that there is now a unique opportunity for the ECB and counties to get to grips with the entire spectrum of inequality in cricket. The game has let down not only minority ethnic communities but also lower-income white ones. However, he fears that the present momentum could well be dissipated in new initiatives and procedures devised by consultants which do nothing for actual victims of disadvantage – as has happened in the past, in spite of the presence of prominent minority ethnic representatives on the ECB.

He discusses the obscure and much misunderstood decision-making structure and accountability of the ECB, which evolved from the old Test and County Cricket Board which itself evolved from a small committee of the MCC – a private members’ club. The Board reveals very little to the public about key decisions, including the departure of Ian Watmore as Chairman or the procedures which will choose his successor. He notes that its income is overwhelmingly dependent on its revenues from SkySports. As with football, everyday players and supporters have virtually no influence over the way English cricket is run.

Mohammed suggests that in the recent furore over racism, media and politicians may have missed an even more significant story: what happened to £62 million of public money given to the ECB and the counties by Sport England from 2009 to 2017? They need to focus on economic disadvantage. He believes this an even more lethal problem for English cricket than any racism experienced by players and officials who have the potential to obtain redress through the courts.

In company with previous guests, he cites the closure of Haringey Community College as a major blow to the career opportunities for disadvantaged cricketers, especially Afro-Caribbean ones.

Mohammed uses his own early background in Yorkshire cricket to highlight his key themes. He is grateful from the support he received in overcoming economic disadvantage and getting access as a boy to high-quality cricket facilities, especially from Hanging Heaton CC. He believes that the present-day efforts of thousands of volunteers at clubs could bring many more disadvantaged children into the game, if co-ordinated and given respect and recognition.

He discusses some of Hanging Heaton’s famous alumni, including Abdul Qadir and Dilip Vengsarkar. But he also mentions the local Asian-origin batsman who outscored the great Vengsarkar but was excluded, like others, from further progress in the county by its obsolete qualification rules. Mohammed suggests that its wholesale wastage of talented minority ethnic players has singled out Yorkshire for special attack in the new climate of opinion within English cricket.

Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you!

Listen to more episodes of Oborne & Heller

Previous Episode – Episode 77: Class and the myths of English cricket analysed by historian Duncan Stone

Listen to all episodes – Oborne & Heller on Cricket

Peter Oborne & Richard Heller 

Peter Oborne has been the chief political commentator for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, a maker of several documentaries and written and broadcast for many different media. He is the author of a biography of Basil D’Oliveira and of Wounded Tiger, a history of Pakistan cricket, both of which won major awards.

Richard Heller was a long-serving humorous columnist on The Mail on Sunday and more briefly, on The Times. He worked in the movie business in the United States and the UK, including a brief engagement on a motion picture called Cycle Sluts Versus The Zombie Ghouls. He is the author of two cricket-themed novels A Tale of Ten Wickets and The Network. He appeared in two Mastermind finals: in the first his special subject was the life of Sir Gary Sobers.

Oborne & Heller cricketing partnership

Jointly, he and Peter produced White On Green, celebrating the drama of Pakistan cricket, including the true story of the team which lost a first-class match by an innings and 851 runs.

Peter and Richard have played cricket with and against each other for a variety of social sides, including Parliament’s team, the Lords and Commons, and in over twenty countries including India, Pakistan, the United States, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Australia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Morocco.

The Podcast is produced by Bridget Osborne and James Willcocks at The Chiswick Calendar.

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

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We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Chiswick Cheese Market – with 150 artisan cheeses, what to choose?

Image above: Chiswick Cheese Market; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

Guest blog by Cheesewick organiser Lucy Cufflin

It was dark, foggy and damp as our stall holders arrived for January Cheesewick – but as the fog lifted the customers arrived and a busy market day was had by all.

What caught my eye in January at Cheesewick? One of my favourites was in my shopping bag early was Pevensey Blue from Fay at the Big Wheel Cheese stall – this is a creamy, tangy, delectable blue cheese that never fails to bring a smile to my face.

It’s the only cheese the Pevensey cheese company produce, and this husband-and-wife team have spent years perfecting this cheese. It’s excellent!

Images above: Pevensey Blue cheese

Then a new cheese to me from Roberto at ‘The French Comte’ stall – ‘Le Mothais sur Feuille’ – a soft cow’s milk cheese from the Ile de Re off the west coast of France. This cheese did not disappoint – it was very young and chalky when I bought it so I resisted it for 2 weeks and gosh it was worth the wait – for lovers of St. Marcellin or St. Felicien this is a must try, but it is much more succulent than either of these and has almost a double cream flavour going on. I’ll be back for more of that in February that’s for sure.

I can never resist Quickes’ Mary’s reserve cheddar from Heritage Cheese – nutty, strong and excellent to nibble or be greedy with. Eat it as it is, but to cook with is out of this world. (A note here – one thing I have learned over the seven months of being part of Cheesewick is not to keep a block of cheap cheese for cooking – believe me when you have had a toastie made with Mary’s Reserve you will realise the joy of simple dishes when the ingredients are sublime- for me there is no going back).

Images above: Le Mothais sur Feuille from The French Comte stall; Quickes’ Mary’s reserve cheddar from Heritage Cheese

Several new cheeses from Scotland especially with Burn’s night on mind – the heralded and aptly named, ‘Minger’, the unctuous ‘Morangie Brie’ and fabulous ‘Blue Murder’ – look out for them again in February.

But before you think that after seven Cheesewick markets I might have seen it all, tasted it all and bought most of it I tell you NO, there is always something at every single cheese market that I have never seen before – and so it was at Bianca Mora stall where I spotted a strange ovoid shaped cheese labelled ‘cave pecorino’ – A ‘formaggio di fossa’ explained Ewa who owns the stall.

Images above: ‘Minger’ and ‘Morangie Brie’ from Scotland

It’s literal translation of is ‘cheese from the pit’ – OK interest piqued, and I needed to know more… A once-a-year cheese made with the summer ewes milk in the Emilia region of Italy.

Fresh cheeses are loaded into pits hewn out of volcanic rock. The pits are lined with hay and herbs and the cheeses piled on top of each other. Then the top is covered with a wooden board and the edges sealed with a sandy cement to block out all air.

A very special kind of fermentation then takes place in the vacuum – cheese, hay, herbs and all the bacteria build over time in the pit or ‘cave’.  So, there it stays unopened for three months and on St Catherine’s day in November the seals are broken (the smell is heady apparently) the cheese is then removed. It loses around a third of its original weight and has taken the shape of the space it occupies piled up with the other cheese so no two cheeses are the same.

Images above: cave pecorino at Bianca Mora stall

Flavour? Well I have to say it’s extraordinary – Ewa’s cheese was a dry-ish texture but still quite young so it is whitish rather than yellowy which these cheeses can be. It is basically a pecorino but not like any I have ever tasted before.

First flavour in the mouth – strong and tangy but seconds later the mushroomy, slightly winey, nutty flavours come through. Probably what an aficionado might call ‘complex flavours’ I guess. Perfectly bold enough to enjoy it in its own but marry it with honey or even a fruit compote and something even more exciting starts to happen Never tried it? Then you must – but beware there are some more mass produced formaggio di fossa out there so check with your cheesemonger that what you are buying is the real thing!

This was just my tiny glimpse of over 150 Artisan cheeses on offer at Cheesewick – quite overwhelming on a first visit for any cheese lover but as regulars will tell you, it is good to see favourites come back but there is always something new to try, not forgetting the chutneys, hand-made cheese boards, crackers and much much more.

The next Chiswick Cheese Market takes place on Sunday 20 February. These are the stallholders who will be taking part:

Cheese producers and mongers

The French Comte – Mont d’Or plus a fabulous array of French Alpine cheeses.

Nut Knowle Farm – 14 varieties of Sussex handmade goat’s cheese from a single herd.

Bath Cheese Co.  – Award-winning organic cheese made by hand at Park Farm, Kelston near Bath with milk from their own cows.

No. 2 Pound Street –  Fabulous cheesemonger and Cheese Academy tutor brings 3 different cheeses with great stories to every market.

La Latteria – Thee Olive Tree – local, West London mozzarella and burrata.

Heritage Cheese – slow food British & Irish cheesemonger – plus British charcuterie.

Gastronomica – Artisanal Italian cheeses and amazing charcuterie.

Emilia – famous Red Cow 32 month aged Parmesan and Italian charcuterie.

Big Wheel Cheese – cheeses from the ‘Sussex Golden Triangle’ including Pevensey Blue and Baron Bigod from Suffolk.

Cheese on the Wey – small batch artisan cheese from Farnham.

Palace Culture – exceptional vegan cheese – smoked, truffle, blue and Kimcheeze, awarded 2 stars at the Great Taste Awards.

Drunk Cheese – wine, grape and eau de vie steeped cheeses.

Roi Queiruga – Trethowan Bros Pitchfork Cheddar and Gorwydd Caerphilly – big winners at The World Cheese Awards 2021.

Batch Farm – Somerset waxed truckles of Farmhouse cheddar and goats cheese in a range of flavours.

Dorset Dairy – Fresh milk bring your bottles for a refill service!

Cheese accompaniments

Beans World – Cold pressed rapeseed oil and specialist Italian vinegars.

The Olive Bar – feta, saucisson, nuts, dried fruits, antipasti and olives.

Love Fermented – local kimchis and pickles – home made and unpasteurised.

Dispensamor – Italian sauces and Italian honey.

Cheese accoutrements

Rooms & Roots – vintage kitchenalia including cheese boards and linens.

chiswickcheesemarket.uk

Cheesewick recipe

To entice you to come and try out different cheeses, the organisers are offering their top recipe recommendations in collaboration with cookbook website ckbk.com

See Neil Perry’s recipe for the best Macaroni cheese here: Cheesewick recipes – Macaroni cheese

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: New head at ArtsEd day school wants better links with the community

See also: Tracey Crouch MP introduces Seal Protection bill

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Tracey Emin among prominent women artists in Chiswick Auctions Urban & Contemporary Art sale

Image above: Drawing by Tracey Emin

Guest blog by Madeleine White, Head of Urban & Contemporary art at Chiswick Auctions

Ahead of Women’s History Month in March, Chiswick Auctions presents an auction of Urban & Contemporary Art (Thursday 24 February), which features incredible women artists such as Tracey Emin, Yayoi Kusama, Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger. Here, we take a closer look at these four prominent women who feature in our sale.

Recently, there have been several pinnacle moments in the history of art pertaining to female artists. For example, 2021 marked the inaugural ‘(Women) Artists’ auction at Sotheby’s which featured an outstanding collection of 63 works across 400 years, all by female artists.

Later this year, Sonia Boyce will be the first black female artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale. In 2018 she said “it was very clear when I was at art college that I was somehow out of place; the system hadn’t anticipated me or anyone like me. Even though there were a lot of female students, they were thought about as though they were being trained to become the wives of artists, not artists themselves.”

Do we need to define an artist by their gender? It could be said that for female artists to be considered truly equal, they need to stop being referred to with a gendered qualifier preceding the definition of artist. On the other hand, by highlighting and making visible these artists and their achievements, we are drawing attention to this disparity, and helping to inspire and bring attention to other women and their work.

Tracey Emin

Chiswick Auctions is offering thirteen works by Emin.

Highly acclaimed British artist Tracey Emin came to prominence as one of the YBAs (Young British Artists) and has certainly set a precedent for women artists through the success of her fearless and unapologetic approach to creating art.

The variety of media with which she works – painting, drawing, film, photography, sewn appliqué, sculpture, neon – provide highly personalised vessels for her singular voice. The genres of self-portraiture and the nude run throughout her oeuvre, referencing her family, childhood, relationships, pregnancies and abortions, in a manner that is neither tragic nor sentimental and which resonate deeply with the audience.

Tracey Emin published her first lithograph in 1986. Since then, printmaking has been a key medium and a consistent presence in her work. The intimacy and immediacy of working on paper allows Emin to express her innermost thoughts, fantasies and memories.

These vulnerable works frequently depict nudes, often herself. Similar to a visual stream of consciousness, her prints give direct insight into her emotional world, provide an unequivocal rawness and often include snippets of profound text. Additionally, the titles of her prints reveal and give something away of the figure’s turmoil.

Jenny Holzer

Another artist that utilises text in her work is the American neo-conceptual artist Jenny Holzer.

Holzer began creating her best known works, ‘Truisms’, in 1977, when she was a student in an independent study program. She hand-typed numerous ‘one liners’ by taking words from a course reading list. Like other artists of her generation, Holzer turned to the strategies of mass media and advertising in her work.

In 1982 she blazed these messages across a giant advertising hoarding in Times Square, New York. The Truisms are deliberately challenging, presenting a spectrum of often contradictory opinions. Holzer hoped they would sharpen people’s awareness of the “usual baloney they are fed” in daily life and provoke a reaction that might lead to change or further discussion.

Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger is another such artist, known for using punchy text in her pieces. Personal pronouns like ‘you’ and ‘I’ are staples of Kruger’s practice, bringing the viewer into each piece.

“Direct address has motored my work from the very beginning”, Kruger has said. “I like it because it cuts through the grease.”

Kruger’s work prompts us to interrogate our own positions; in the artist’s words, “to question and change the systems that contain us.’” She demands that we consider how our identities are formed within culture, through representation in language and image.

In 1979, Kruger developed her signature style using large-scale black-and-white images overlaid with text. She repurposed found images, juxtaposing them with short, pithy phrases printed in Futura Bold or Helvetica Extra Bold typeface in black, white, or red text bars.

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama also uses repetition in her work, although rather than text, dots or other repeated images provide a sense of all consuming infinity. Kusama is often described as the most successful female artist alive today.

As a young, aspiring artist, Kusama greatly admired another brilliant artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, writing, ‘I’m only on the first step of the long difficult life of being a painter. Will you kindly show me the way?’ she asked. O’Keeffe advised Kusama to come to America and show her work to as many people as she could.

Painting was both an outlet and an act of rebellion for Kusama when she was a child. Her mother told her she was not allowed to paint and frequently confiscated her inks and canvases, which might explain her obsessive creative drive. Her mother also made her spy on her father, who had repeated affairs. Her ‘penis chairs’, as she calls them, and other sculptures coated in phalluses, may stem from a fear of sex: indeed, she describes herself as asexual.

For a show in New York in 1963 she covered a rowing boat with phalluses and wallpapered the room with repeated identical photocopies of the image. She later accused Andy Warhol, whom she considered a good friend, of stealing her ideas. Warhol used wallpaper at a show in 1966, a repeating vibrant screen print of a cow, and again in later shows.

The works depicted above by Emin, Holzer, Kruger and Kusama, are up for auction on Thursday 24 February at 2pm. This live auction will be broadcast on our website where you are welcome to bid.

If you have any questions about the auction or require any additional information, please contact Madeleine White, Head of Urban & Contemporary art who will be happy to assist.

madeleine.white@chiswickauctions.co.uk

chiswickauctions.co.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Why Afaf Belcaid gave up being an engineer to set up dance2happy

See also: American University offers to provide volunteers for Chiswick organisations

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

 

 

Rechargeable battery sparks flat fire in Acton

Firefighters have issued a warning about using rechargeable batteries after a flat caught fire in Acton.

An accidental fire caused by a lithium-ion battery damaged half of a four-roomed flat on the third floor of a residential block on Warple Way, Southfield. There were no reports of any injuries and one man left the building before the London Fire Brigade arrived.

The Brigade’s 999 Control Officers took 24 calls to the blaze, the first at 6.09am on Sunday morning (13 February). The fire was under control by 7.24am, with fire crews from Acton, North Kensington, Chiswick and Park Royal fire stations attending the scene.

Firefighters’ battery safety tips

A London Fire Brigade (LFB) spokesperson said:

“Batteries can present a fire risk if they’re over-charged, short circuited, submerged in water or damaged, so it’s really important to protect them against being damaged and charge them safely.

“Unplug devices once they have finished charging and always make sure you use the right charger for your device.”

To help prevent accidental fires, the LFB recommend to always use the charger that came with your device. If you need to buy a replacement, always choose a branded, genuine product from a supplier you can trust as there are a lot of fake devices in circulation.

Battery users should also avoid storing, using or charging batteries at very high or low temperatures and protect said batteries against being damaged in any way, such as being crushed, punctured, or immersed in water.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Months of ‘transport misery’ look likely as more Tube strikes announced

See also: Acton Town fire disrupts Tube services

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Bedford Park residents incensed at plans to build ‘three storey house’ in back garden

Image above: Exterior of the proposed structure (by Alice Poole Architects)

Residents of the Bedford Park area and conservationists have reacted angrily to a planning proposal which would see what is effectively a three-storey house erected in the back garden of a property on Woodstock Road.

The application, submitted to LB Ealing’s planning portal on 23 November 2021, requests permission for the construction of a detached ‘studio/garden building’ with basement and roof level accommodation in the rear garden of 7 Woodstock Road. The applicant says the new building would only be of ancillary use to the main dwelling house.

While the application portrays the construction as a kind of artisan summer house, which would be in keeping with the local conservation area, many are concerned the new building is way outside those parameters and grossly breaches conservation guidelines. Opponents have said they are concerned the garden will eventually be divided up and the 105 square metre building will be sold as a separate dwelling.

Image above: exterior and floor plan of the proposed structure (by Alice Poole Architects)

The proposed structure would consist of three floors, including a basement, ground floor and first floor. The ground floor consists of an entrance hallway which leads to a study, a living/ games room, a coats cabinet and two stairways. The stairs to the basement would lead to a small lobby area which would be used to access a wine cellar, a gym and two storage areas. An exterior light well, visible from the gym area, would be built on this level too. The first floor plan includes a landing area, an art studio, a second study, a shower room and access to a roof terrace.

If approved, building is expected to commence in in March 2022 and would be completed by September 2022.

The plans on Ealing’s planning portal have received 57 comments, the vast majority of which are people voicing their objections and concerns about the application. One significant objection comes from The Victorian Society, a conservation group dedicated to the preservation of Victorian architecture, based in Bedford Park, who say the building is more akin to ‘a small domestic building or lodge than a studio’ and recommended that the application be rejected.

Above: existing garden plan (by Alice Poole Architects)

Above: proposed garden plan (by Alice Poole Architects)

Building ‘would harm the conservation area’

Various residents, including  The Bedford Park Society  were concerned with the impact the proposed structure would have on the local conservation area. Some cite previous rejections of proposals which breached the conservation rules in less egregious ways. Others cited environmental concerns claiming the building would contribute to overdevelopment in the area, which Bedford Park is protected against.

In a letter to LB Ealing’s planning committee, Connor McNeill, a Conservation Adviser from The Victorian Society, wrote:

‘The Victorian Society have been notified of this proposal by a concerned member of the public. Having reviewed the application we object. Bedford Park is a highly significant area as evinced by its designation as a Conservation Area and the high level of statutory listed buildings within it. This is due to its historical associations as the world’s first garden suburb, and design as a development for artists and aesthetes in reaction to the supposed vulgarity of high Victorian taste.’

Connor added:

‘The Society recognise the presence of historic studios within the grounds of many of the properties in Bedford Park, and the more recent development of new buildings in this idiom. However, this is not a justification for this proposal which would harm the significance and character of the Conservation Area, and Queen Anne Gardens in particular.’

An objection from a resident living at 14 Woodstock Road resident read:

‘Bedford Park is a conservation area, and in the fifty years I’ve lived here most residents have accepted the limitations on development that involves – conservatories and basements have been turned down, and my neighbours have been denied the chance to turn part of their front gardens into off street parking.’

The full list of comments are available here: ealing.gov.uk/online-applications

Local councillor says plans are ‘unlikely to be approved’ but ‘compromise could be made’

Councillor for Chiswick Southfield, Andrew Steed, told The Chiswick Calendar he expects the application will be rejected when it is considered by an Ealing planning committee.

“It’s my understanding, and I’m using quite careful words here, that application would not be agreed to by the council. So in effect, informally, they’ve gone back and said ‘this isn’t going to pass'”.

“The trouble is, and this is one of the problems with planning rules and regulations. The application itself still stands, and if between the developer and the local planning authority they come up with a compromise [in order for the application to be approved]”.

Cllr Steed said though the compromise would have to be “pretty big” for the application to be accepted.

“Because this would be agreed, if you like, behind closed doors – nobody would be sure what the end result will be” he added.

In some cases the applicant is told to withdraw the application and make a new one, which Andrew said he thought preferable because at least then any new application would make its way onto the planning portal and would see the same level of scrutiny as the current proposals.

“There is an element, if they don’t do that, you’re losing the whole notion of transparency and what the planning portal is there for in the first place.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Residents’ group objects to Lisa Armstrong’s plans to build in her back garden

See also: Riverside residents campaign to prevent luxury houses being built on the ‘functional floodplain’

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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Appeal for information after 16 year old stabbed in Chiswick

Police are appealing for information after a sixteen-year-old boy was stabbed in Chiswick last weekend.

The attack took place on Dorchester Grove, which connects Chiswick Lane to the Hogarth Roundabout, around 11.30pm on Saturday, 5 February.

The injured boy was treated at the scene by London Ambulance Service paramedics before being rushed to hospital. His injury is not thought to be life-threatening.

No arrests have been made at this stage.

The A316 Chiswick Lane was closed in both directions at Hogarth Roundabout and the 190 bus was diverted as police set up a cordon near the scene.

The Met are asking anyone with information to call 101 or Tweet @MetCC and quote CAD 8094/5 Feb.

For anonymous tip-offs, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit Crimestoppers-uk.org.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Police appeal for information after knife fight on Bollo Lane

See also: Cressida Dick resigns as Met Police Commissioner

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

LB Hounslow issues warning over wood-fired burners

LB Hounslow has issued warning over the use of wood-fired stoves and burners in the borough.

The council said using the wrong kind of fuel adds to air pollution in the borough and affects people who have respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD.

Wood burners have become increasingly popular in Hounslow over recent years. When wood, coal and charcoal burn, they release fine particles and Nitrogen Dioxide into the atmosphere. This contributes to air pollution which is harmful to people’s health.

Figures recently released by the Greater London Authority show that these burners are responsible for 17% of all the fine particle pollution across the capital.

Research shows some wood burners and open fires can produce more air pollution than a heavy goods vehicle. And it’s not just the external environment that can suffer because using a wood burner can triple levels of air pollution within the home.

In 2021, the government introduced new rules on the sale of fuel for open fires. There are restrictions on the sale of bagged coal and wet wood – two of the largest producers of air pollution. The new rules also mean that solid fuel must have a low sulphur content. Manufacturers must also certify and label these products to meet the required standards.

‘Use fuel sparingly’

Hounslow Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Climate Emergency, Councillor Katherine Dunne, urged everyone to use these burners responsibly:

“We know that a real fire can be an enjoyable experience but we have to think about the potential impacts on the rest of the community… We have declared a climate emergency in Hounslow. This means that we are doing all we can to reduce the amount of carbon we produce.

“We are asking people to use their wood-burning stoves and open fires sparingly and in a considerate manner. You must know what types of fuel you can use to help protect the environment and other people.”

The advice from the government on the use of wood-burning stoves asks users to:

‘Burn less wood – Ask yourself if it’s necessary to burn as much. Buy ready to burn fuel. Don’t use wet wood – the moisture means more pollution. Don’t use treated waste wood or household rubbish – it can emit toxic fumes, including arsenic. For an indoor fire, use solid fuel instead of coal.  Regularly clean and maintain your burner. For an indoor fire, make sure you have your chimney cleaned regularly.’

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Hounslow residents urged to sign up for Green Homes Grant worth up to £10,000

See also: Hounslow announces almost 3% increase in Council Tax

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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New head at ArtsEd day school wants better links with the community

Images above: ArtsEd on Bath Rd W4 – photograph Ollie Mathews; New headteacher of ArtsEd day school & sixth form Matthew Bulmer – photograph Neil Roig

ArtsEd day school and sixth form has a new head teacher, Matthew Bulmer, who took up the post in January. He spoke to The Chiswick Calendar about his ambitions for the school.

“People are here because they love what they’re doing”

ArtsEd is about as good as it gets if your child enjoys performing. It is one of the top schools in the country for the performing arts, rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted in its last report, achieving 89% A*-B at A level.

Out of last year’s cohort of school leavers one student, Karen is now studying maths at Oxford University, another, Isabella Pappas, is in Hollywood filming the lead role in Meet the Mayhems for Disney Plus, to be released this summer.

“The metric that I am most proud of” says Matthew Bulmer, “is that it is in the top 1% for ‘value added’ (achievement on leaving the school above that expected by nationally standardised testing at a younger age) “that’s a more meaningful statistic. It means our children almost always reach their potential.”

ArtsEd benefits from small class sizes (maximum 24), teachers who are experts in their field and “outstanding” pastoral care.

“People are here because they love what they’re doing” says Matthew “and that helps them with all their lessons across the board.”

Image above: ArtsEd school Dance Show 2021; photograph Steve Gregson

“Not well enough known in its own area”

The school also has tremendous resources, with access to the Andrew Lloyd Webber theatre to stage productions and teachers who are writers, directors and producers themselves, with contacts in the industry.

But, says Matthew, it is not well enough known in its own area.

“I want to start reaching out to the community, to engage more with the Bedford Park Festival, to open our doors to young people.”

The school is involved in a national outreach programme running workshops with teachers, students and ex-students and Matthew is looking to start new outreach initiatives this summer.

“ArtsEd is the best of its kind in the country anyway and I would like more people to know about it.”

The school also has a bursary and scholarship programme which he would like to expand and he wants to get more children and young people through the doors to take part in the ArtsEd Extra programme of short courses and classes available to the general public.

Image above: ArtsEd school teaching session; photograph Robin Savage

A time of change for ArtsEd

Matthew himself has extensive experience in both the independent education sector, and a background in theatre. He was most recently the Director of Performing Arts and a member of the Senior Leadership Team at Brentwood independent day school, having previously been an English and Drama teacher and Head of Department at independent schools in London and on the south coast.

He studied at Cambridge University, and following a long tradition of successful thespians, cut his teeth as an actor, producer, technical manager and director with the Cambridge Footlights. When he left university he co-founded a theatre company, which is still going strong, though he himself is no longer directly involved.

Matthew joins ArtsEd at a period of expansion for the school, which recently took ownership of brand-new studios, classrooms, and communal spaces as part of a major refurbishment. But he also joins with the shadow of the resignation of principal Chris Hocking over the organisation, over the finding by an independent inquiry that there had been an “overly sexualised environment” in the degree school of musical theatre.

The report, by Rebecca Tuck QC on behalf of the Board of Trustees, described a “sexualised environment, staff-student ‘relationships’, socialising and drug taking” which stemmed from “a misguided culture” which was made worse by a failure in leadership.

Image above: ArtsEd school Music Concert; photograph Robin Savage

Day school and Higher Education schools separate

Addressing the elephant in the room, I asked Matthew what he would say to parents who were concerned about the report.

“It had nothing to do with the day school” he said.

ArtsEd is complicated because Cone Ripman House on Bath Rd is home to a Conservatoire Drama School offering degrees in musical theatre, and training in acting for stage, film, television and audio as well as the day school and sixth form. ArtsEd also offers short courses and part time tuition to the public, through ArtsEd Extra.

The allegations of an overly sexualised environment were only made about the three year musical theatre degree course. The Principal, currently Dr Julie Spencer for an interim period, who has been with the degree school since 2019 as Director of the School of Acting, overseas all the schools. She and her senior team are now working through the recommendations made in the report to change the culture.

The day school has its own separate part of the building and staff and students have lanyards with passes which only give them access to where they are meant to be.

Image above: ArtsEd school laboratory teaching session; photograph Robin Savage

Recent report by Independent Schools Inspectorate

As ArtsEd applied to take more students when the building refurbishment was completed, they went through an inspection by the Independent Schools Inspectorate in 2021, while the allegations into the musical theatre degree course were uppermost in everyone’s minds.

The ISI report, published in October, (the same month as Rebecca Tuck’s report) found that:

‘The safeguarding policy is effectively implemented at all levels in each section of the school.

‘Suitable arrangements exist to ensure that the higher education establishment operating in the same building as the school is separate both physically and in terms of social or other contact between pupils at the school and HE staff and students.’

It concluded the leadership and management ‘actively promote the well-being of the pupils’ as well as preparing them for the world of the performing arts, further education or employment.

I met Matthew on a day when the school was holding auditions for the coming year. From the busy schedule of children bustling about, excitedly presenting their audition pieces and sitting English and maths tests, the school has no shortage of takers.

Matthew Bulmer would like people in Chiswick to be more involved.

Image above: ArtsEd school Music Concert; photograph Robin Savage

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: ArtsEd principal resigns after report reveals school’s ‘sexualised environment’ – 2021

See also: ArtsEd school ‘over-subscribed’ despite crisis in performing arts – 2020

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

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Eight storey self-storage facility on Power Road set to be approved

A large self-storage facility on Power Road in Chiswick looks set to get planning approval, as Hounslow planning officers are recommending councillors grant the application.

The storage company Shurgard submitted an application to LB Hounslow to build on the land at 266-270 Gunnersbury Avenue, at the junction with Power Road. The land is home to a low-rise office block at present, which would be demolished and replaced by the tower should the application be approved.

The proposed storage space would have a gross external area of over 10,000 square metres and the main building will be eight storeys high. The main access to the building would be by an access road off Power Road where there would be a shop front and eleven parking spaces.

The building would be taller than the adjacent Chiswick Place office block. The application justifies the proposed building’s height by referencing planned and existing developments in the area, including an eight story tower block at 250 Gunnersbury Avenue approved some years ago, but not yet built.

Images above: generated images of the facility from Power Road outside Iversons (by Threesixty Architecture)

The storage building has been designed by Threesixty Architecture who have worked with Shurgard on a number of developments. The design incorporates demountable mezzanine floors inside – free-standing, units which can be deconstructed and reassembled elsewhere. Shurgard operates 250 self storage stores in seven countries in Europe, with a growing presence across London and the Thames Valley.

Hounslow Council’s reference for the application is P/2021/4405

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bedford Park residents incensed at plans to build ‘three storey house’ in back garden

See also: Residents’ group objects to Lisa Armstrong’s plans to build in her back garden

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

South Western Railway introduces new timetable

Image above: SW trains

South Western Railway have announced a new timetable starting Monday 21 February, which will see train services return to pre-Omicron levels.

Earlier this year, SWR was forced to introduce a temporary timetable in response to staff absences caused by the spread of Omicron. An improvement in staff availability means the rail service can increase the number of trains it runs without compromising reliability for customers.

The new services are timely as more people return to commuting, following the lifting of the government’s instruction to work from home. The timetable will be almost identical to the one that served customers in December 2021, meaning many services will be reinstated.

Details of service levels up until the uplift can be found via:
southwesternrailway.com/plan-my-journey/timetables  

‘A difficult period for the railway’

Commenting, SWR Managing Director Claire Mann said:

“It has been a difficult period for our railway and the customers it serves, with significant staff shortages giving us no choice but to temporarily reduce our timetable last month.

“With staff availability now consistently improving, we are pleased to be able to announce this uplift, which will essentially see service levels return to where they were prior to the spread of Omicron.

“More and more people are returning to our railway, and this timetable will ensure that we match capacity and demand while delivering reliability for customers”.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Months of ‘transport misery’ look likely as more Tube strikes announced

See also: Hounslow announces almost 3% increase in Council Tax

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Phillip Schofield prevents flooding ‘disaster’ at home during COVID isolation

Images above: Philip’s house in Grove Park

Celebrity TV presenter Phillip Schofield recently prevented a flooding ‘disaster’ at his Chiswick home after testing positive for coronavirus and being forced to self-isolate.

The Dancing On Ice star said on social media that while he was disappointed he was missing presenting his show, isolation had proved positive as it meant he was able to prevent his house flooding. flooded.

“Remind me not to turn on that light”, Schofield joked, after posting clip of water dripping through his spotlights. The lights were later removed from the ceiling and large square holes cut out to rectify the leak.

In a subsequent post he said: “Surprisingly I’m very calm. As they say in the movies, ‘Don’t look up.'”

The This Morning presenter used to live in Oxfordshire with his wife Stephanie and their two daughters Molly and Ruby. After he came out as gay in 2020, he moved into a new home in Chiswick.

Phillip has shared small glimpses inside his new home, which includes a glass roof in the conservatory and a fire pit in the garden.

Images above: a picture of the leak and the aftermath were posted to Phillip’s Instagram

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Lisa Armstrong shows off her new home

See also: Residents’ group objects to Lisa Armstrong’s plans to build in her back garden

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Andrea’s film review – Uncharted

Uncharted ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Street-smart Nathan Drake, is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter, Victor “Sully” Sullivan, to recover a fortune amassed by Ferdinand Magellan, and lost 500 years ago by the House of Moncada. Out in cinemas from today.

I’ve been spotting some very scathing reviews around the internet about this one, but to be honest I don’t really understand all the hate.

It might be because I’m still trying to recover from that massive stinker that was Moonfall and I really needed some popcorn fun, or it might be because I’m beginning to grow a soft spot for little Tom Holland, or even because I’ve been craving for another Indiana Jones-like adventure for years, but I’ve actually quite enjoyed this one in a sort of unchallenging / turn-your-brain-off sort of way.

Of course, it’s not going to set the world on fire, nor it’s a game-changer, but it was a perfectly serviceable silly action-packed romp with couple of stand-out set pieces, which confirms Holland’s credentials as a likeable lead even outside his spider-suit.

It’s also a film that never really takes itself too seriously, so why should we?

Serving as a prequel to the video games by the same name (in fact, geeky-nerd that I am, I seem to remember the third game had some flashbacks too), it follows Nathan Drake, a bartender, history buff, and occasional pickpocket, as he is recruited by Mark Wahlberg’s character (Sully, also from the game) to search for lost treasure across the world.

The game itself was a rip-off of other Intellectual Properties like Tomb Raider and of course Indiana Jones, so it’s no surprise that the film too has constant echoes from those franchises: a sort of “Indy-light”.  In fact at some point one character even asks “When did you decide to become Indiana Jones?  proving that it knows exactly what it’s doing.

It may lack the charm, panache and confidence of those early fantastic Spielberg adventures. It is certainly better than any of the Tomb Raider films and it packs so much action that you’ll hardy stop to question any shortcomings. Of course if you are a fan of the games, you’ll know it can do so much more.

Holland has clearly biffed-up a lot for the role and it’s a pleasure to see him doing a lot of his stunts. Hopefully in future instalments a more skilful director might be able to make more of his innate charm and bring a little bit more depth to the character and the story.

As a fan of the games, I know this franchise can do so much more, but both my son and l still manage to enjoy this.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

Uncharted is out in cinemas from today.

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Andrea’s film review – Moonfall

Moonfall ⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

A mysterious force knocks the moon from its orbit around Earth and sends it hurtling on a collision course with life as we know it. Out in cinemas now.

My relationship with disaster films goes back a long time. I believe the ‘70s version of King Kong (if you can count that as a disaster film, after all Kong did destroy NY City) was actually my very first experience in a cinema.

I also remember being enthralled by Towering Inferno as a young child and I must have seen all those Poseidon and Earthquake surrogates countless times.

Then back in ‘90s when disaster movies seemed to dominate the box office, often with the same concepts only months apart (see Deep Impact vs Armageddon, or Volcano vs Dante’s Peak), I was there on opening week to cheer with the rest of the audience.

Even though I was always very aware of how dumb those films were, the spectacle of the visual effects of those entire cities being destroyed by aliens or whatever latest natural disaster was just about enough to for me to close an eye on all the other shortcomings. Yes, the scripts were always ludicrous, the characters laughable, but that almost never mattered and it was part of the fun.

Director Roland Emmerich is no stranger to big-budget silly disaster movies: his Independence Day, Godzilla (1998), The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 helped redefine the genre and while we certainly don’t walk into any of those films searching for deep stories or subtle characters, we also know that if we are able to turn our brains off we should be able to have a fun edge-of-seat ride.

Now, I don’t know whether it’s because I’m 50 years old and lost some of the young innocence that helped me through many of its predecessors or whether my acceptance level for this type of crap has shrunk following the pandemic, but I found Moonfall insufferable.

For a start I couldn’t quite buy into stupid premise: the moon has fallen off its orbit and it’s getting closer and closer to earth, causing massive tides, shifts in gravity and so on. Even though the film-makers promise us it’s purely based on science, the way it’s presented looks just as silly as the premise that drillers should be trained to be astronauts within a week, as opposed to the other way round, in the abysmal Armageddon.

On top of that, the mix natural disaster and alien invasion (no spoiler here: it’s all in the trailers) was just a step too far.

It reminded me of James Cameron’s The Abyss from the late ‘80s, a great suspense movie, full of great characters and set-pieces which all fell apart once the aliens came into it right at the very end. Something very similar happens here, except that this is no Cameron and the movie is actually bad right from the start.

Not even the loud soundtrack crowded with a cacophony of explosions and screams and the extensive visual effects, most of which look like at least a decade old (even the publicity photo below looks bad!), but were also rather confusing, could distract me from just how stupid and how by-the-numbers it all is.

There is NOTHING here we haven’t seen before done a lot better.

Moonfall is badly paced, badly written, repetitive, and even boring, a real crime for all types of movie.

It all happens much too fast, without giving us time to get attached to any of the characters, most of whom seemed to have the same family dynamics anyway. Once I got to the end I realised I actually did not know a single name.

As for the stakes and the impending disaster itself, there’s no real sense of building up to any crescendo, nor any sense of this being a worldwide problem, or even a problem beyond the few people involved. Where are the usual shots of crowds running in panic or those expendable foreign cities being wiped off? This film couldn’t even deliver on that.

In fact, does a world even exist beyond New York and the NASA station?

By the time the third act kicked in and the preposterousness and idiocy of it all surpassed even my worst fears; I had already tuned out and couldn’t wait for it to finish.

And when it finally did, with yet another insult to the audience (a spaceship crash landing on earth right next to where the astronaut’s family members were stranded!!!) I was sure I had witnessed the worst film of its kind.

More than a disaster movie, this one is a disaster of a movie and you shouldn’t spend your money on it.  If you must, watch Greenland instead (on Amazon Prime) to see how these things should be done in the 21st century.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

Moonfall is on in cinemas now.

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.