Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter launches debut EP at George IV

Images above: Caolan McCarthy EP launch at George IV; record cover

Musician, actor and resident of Chiswick Caolan McCarthy talks to Effie Webb

Chiswick resident Caolan McCarthy is launching his debut EP Paper and Stone with his five piece band The Pines at George IV on Wednesday 1 November.

The singer-songwriter has already picked up a Grammy nomination for ‘Best Musical Theater Album’ for the music from Amélie, the West End production based on the 2001 romantic comedy film of the same name.

He is a musician, (multi-instrumentalist), composer, arranger, and music coach for theatre and film as well as being a trained actor.  Caolan graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2015, and has appeared in theatre productions in the West End and the National Theatre. He played the role of Uncle Sammie in Kenneth Branagh’s Oscar-nominated film, Belfast.

This is the first time he’s published his own music and, he says:

“It is such a joy finally to release my own original songs and launch my debut EP at one of my favourite venues in the UK.”

Caolan talked to Effie Webb about the launch and about his music career to date.

Image above: Caolan McCarthy collage from Instagram – caolanmccarthymusic

 “I’ve always written loads of half songs, quarter songs, ideas”

Caolan McCarthy, from Omagh, County Tyrone, is not one to hide away in a garret wondering why he hasn’t been discovered. He is out there, recording, performing, teaching – wearing various musical hats while also making his mark in the world of acting.

“I’m convinced that there are the Elvises and Arethas of the world, these brilliant talents, that no one will ever discover because they’re just sat in their bedrooms singing songs and writing music. And that’s a real sin to me.”

Growing up in a family where his father was a preacher, Caolan has been performing in front of audiences – church-goers – since he was eight years old.

This unique environment allowed him to perform with a band in a setting where making mistakes was not just acceptable but embraced. It was in these formative years that Caolan learned to improvise and gained confidence in his musical abilities.

Transitioning from church performances, Caolan entered the world of cover bands, starting with a Beatles tribute group at the age of 15. Under the moniker “Sergeant Pepper’s Only Smart Pub Band,” he performed at various venues, including the Waterfront in Belfast. These early experiences honed his stage presence and solidified his love for performing live.

Caolan often finds inspiration for melodies and lyrics when on the move, capturing them in voice notes:

“I’ve always written loads of half songs, quarter songs, ideas.”

His musical influences include iconic artists such as Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison, The Beatles, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Springsteen, and an early obsession with Ray Charles at the age of 14.

Image above: Caolan performing with the band

Why has it taken so long? Inspiration put on pause by the pandemic

Caolan, like many artists, faced a significant obstacle in his creative journey – the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think there’s a great book to be written, a sort of ‘Sliding Doors’ thing of 2020 – what everyone expected they were going to do and how their lives might have been.

“For me it was ‘in 2020, I’m going to record an original EP’. Lockdown put the creative process on pause, and routine took over: Every day we had a plan: we’d get up; we did our HIIT workout sessions; we’d learn Italian on Duolingo; we had our state-sponsored walk; we’d make dinner and we’d have a jam session.

“We did a couple of Instagram live gigs from the living room… It wasn’t a creative time; it was more a time we just got through. Crisis isn’t conducive to creativity.

“I remember seeing some self-righteous post on Instagram that read ‘Writers, if you’re not writing now then what are you doing?’ I thought, this person didn’t understand the creative process, which is about being inspired. And to be inspired, you have to be out in the world experiencing things, and that wasn’t happening.”

Image above: Copies of paper and Stone; Caolan

‘Paper and Stone’

His debut EP, Paper and Stone, features hard-hitting, melancholic lyrics juxtaposed with cheery, upbeat melodies. The inspiration behind the songs is broad ranging. The natural world as a metaphor features heavily in the album.

In lead track Oregon: ‘When the sun comes into frame and the songbird finds its fame, how you’ve put this precious choice to shame.’

“That’s kind of my goal, to sing about something in nature and tie that in with something personal”.

Selma Magnolia was inspired by a woman who would sit smoking on the opposing balcony to Caolan’s:

“She would come out on the balcony every day and I would look at her, thinking, what’s this woman’s life like?’. “

Asked about the extent his music draws on lived experience, Caolan says:

“There’s an autobiographical element to some of the songs. I think there has to be, because that’s what you know.”

Image above: Caolan in the recording studio

I asked whether there’s something scary about the exposure of singing about personal struggles, laying your soul bare.

“You can say things through a song you might never say in person. There’s definitely a catharsis to it.”

The majority of songs, Caolan says, are about love and loss:

“People who have had someone they love and they don’t anymore; someone they’ve broken up with and don’t believe the reasons why they’ve broken up.” One-dimensional love songs without any pain or grief aren’t as compelling, Caolan asserts:

“It’s not nearly as interesting to have a song that says ‘You’re really great, I love you so much, and we’re very happy together’.  Listening to a song that resonates with something you’re going through makes you realize ‘Oh that’s just a human emotion. And humans are complex. I’m not as alone as I thought.’

“How else would we know that how we feel is in any way legitimate?’ I’m really grateful to those who have done that. But doing it yourself, you really can’t think too much about it, you’ve just got to do it.”

He reflects on advice he heard from another writer:

“To finish things and show them to people. And that sounds like a really simple thing. But actually, that’s the hardest part about being creative, because when it’s finished, it’s done. You can’t touch it anymore. It’s there to be criticized and it’s a personal thing.”

Caolan acknowledges that nerves are part and parcel of live performances, but he firmly believes in controlling the controllable aspects, such as preparation, to mitigate them. He emphasizes the symbiotic relationship between the performer and the audience. His upcoming gig at the George IV on November 1st, featuring his five-piece band The Pines, is a culmination of his musical journey – the songs on Paper and Stone are ten years in the making.

Tickets to the launch of Paper and Stone on Wedensday 1 November are £12, available from Eventbrite here: Paper and Stone launch / Eventbrite

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Roadworks by Chiswick Park tube station expected to cause traffic disruption over half term week

Image above: Acton Lane closed during previous road works

Road works set to be completed by Sunday 29 October

Closures between Bollo Lane and the Essex Place roundabout near Sainsbury’s, scheduled for later this month, are expected to result in significant traffic disruption.

Hounslow Council has recently announced the implementation of a traffic order, to facilitate the installation of electricity cables for new buildings in the area.  The traffic order is set to remain in effect until the end of the year, which is standard practice for any traffic order to allow for unexpected delays.

A spokesperson for the Council has clarified that the roadworks are scheduled to take place primarily during the upcoming school half-term break, starting on Friday 20 October and concluding on Sunday 29 October.

The closure will begin with Acton Lane’s southbound lane, which will be shut down from Chiswick Park station to Essex Place over the weekend, and is expected to last until Monday, 23 October. During this phase of the works, southbound traffic will be rerouted along South Parade and Turnham Green Terrace.

Starting from Tuesday 24 October, the northbound lane will be closed from the junction with Chiswick Road to the Bollo Lane junction. The Council anticipates the works will be completed by the end of the week. During this time, northbound traffic will be redirected through Turnham Green Terrace and South Parade.

Some have called for the underpass at Fisher’s Lane to be reopened to vehicular traffic during the works, but Ealing Council made the traffic restrictions on Fisher’s Lane Permanent in 2021.

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Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter calls for HS2 funding to be rerouted to Hammersmith Bridge

Image above: Hammersmith Bridge

Andy Slaughter criticises decision to reduce scope of HS2

Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter has called for funds from HS2 to be redirected to the restoration of Hammersmith Bridge.

The Government has just announced the High Speed railway project will be cancelled and Transport minister Mark Harper has written to MPs to say it would “benefit every single region” of the country by freeing up £36 billion.

In his response to the minister’s letter Andy Slaughter suggested redirecting some of the funds to Hammersmith Bridge for the much needed repairs and outlined a series of potential issues associated with terminating the high-speed rail line at Old Oak Common station.

Under the Government’s revised plan HS2 will operate solely between Birmingham and London, with Old Oak Common serving as the terminus for possibly the first decade of its operation, instead of Euston.

The new proposal for Euston Station includes a reduced number of platforms, effectively ruling out potential future expansions to cities such as Manchester and Leeds.

In his letter to the minister, sent on Friday (6 October) the Hammersmith MP said:

‘You wrote that projects funded from scrapping the completion of HS2 ‘will benefit every single region’ of our country, but I searched in vain through your list of projects to see what benefit there is for London.

‘There is no motor vehicle access from the east, only a belated plan for a long and unwelcoming cycle and footpath from Scrubs Lane. There are no easy local connections to Overground, tube or bus.

‘The one narrow access road from Old Oak Common Lane is several hundred metres from the station entrance. In the event of fire or terrorist incident, this entrance would be the only route in and out of the station site, which shows a poor attitude to resilience.”

Andy Slaughter expressed concerns about the transfer of disabled passengers between HS2 and the Elizabeth Line, as well as potential overcrowding on existing services. He said there has been minimal effort by HS2 to integrate the station into the broader Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) area, emphasising the significance of Old Oak in the revised HS2 plan.

Image above: The single access road to Old Oak Common station; Photograph from HS2

“Not had the courtesy of a reply”

Andy Slaughter concluded his letter by urging a review of the station’s design and layout to ensure it is fit for its new role and can serve as a catalyst for the development of the OPDC. He offered to discuss these matters further with the Minister.

He said:

‘May I ask that you include Hammersmith Bridge in these? You will be aware of the delay in reopening the Bridge because your department has hitherto limited its offered contribution to no more than one third of the repair costs.

‘Given the restricted resources of the GLA and the LB Hammersmith & Fulham, this makes it impractical for work to go ahead. If your Government’s intention is to invest in strategic and local transport projects that will benefit communities, I can think of no better place to start than Hammersmith Bridge.’

He invited the minister to discuss the matter further copying in the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the leaders of Hammersmith & Fulham and Richmond Councils as well as local MPs Rupa Huq, Sarah Olney, Fleur Anderson and Ruth Cadbury, adding:

‘We approached the roads minister with the same request almost a year ago and have sent several reminders but as yet have not had the courtesy of a reply.’

Mark Harper wrote in his original letter:

‘As the Prime Minister stated, we have to be prepared to take big decisions about our long-term approach to transport infrastructure. We are doing exactly that, setting out a new vision for transport which focuses on the journeys that matter most to people, drives growth and jobs and levels up our country.’

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Over 100 Chiswick allotments burgled or vandalised over the weekend

Image above: Damage to an allotment shed

Fears attacks may be “an inside job”

Over 100 allotments managed by the Chiswick Horticultural and Allotments Society on Chertsey Road and Dukes Meadows have been burgled, vandalised or both over the weekend.

Chertsey Road allotments were targeted by the vandals on Friday and Saturday (6 – 7 October) and the Dukes Meadows site was targeted on the Saturday and Sunday.

Denis Flaherty, the chair of the society which manages the provision of allotments, told The Chiswick Calendar the majority of the attacks were seemed to just be “pure vandalism” with many expensive items such as battery-powered lawnmowers or power tools left untouched whereas doors and padlocks were smashed open for no apparent reason than to get inside.

Some sheds had bricks thrown through their windows.

The break-ins have been reported to the police, who have said they can’t do anything about it. The sites, despite being isolated areas, have little security. Some allotment holders install their own private CCTV, like Denis, but these cameras have been stolen in the past.

Image above: Damage to a lock; allotment shed

Denis went as far to describe the attacks as possibly an inside job:

“A lot of people have been saying, well they must have come in a car to be able to take some of the stuff away… A lot of these allotments have security locks on them now.”

He added that one man on the Staveley Road allotments not only had his shed smashed up, but the vandals had cut off two of the pumpkins he had been growing and thrown them onto the railway line.

“Where’s the sense in that?” Denis added.

Chiswick Horticultural and Allotments society manages the provision of allotments. It also provides up to date, useful horticultural information to its members and works with community organisations, running a schools programme and providing an allotment for school age children and teenagers to work on.

Hounslow has some 2,100 allotments, of which 600 are in Chiswick.

Doctors promoting merger of three Chiswick GP surgeries say it will benefit patients

Images above: Grove Park Surgery; Computer Generated Image of the new health centre being built at Fisher’s Lane, where Chiswick Family Doctors Practice will be based

Doctors say the merger of Grove Park Surgery, Wellesley Rd practice and the Chiswick Family Doctors Practice will enable them to provide a better service

Doctors from the three practices in Chiswick which are planning to merge outlined their plans to a public meeting on Wednesday 4 October. The merged practices will become known as Chiswick Medical Practice.

GPs from Grove Park Surgery, Wellesley Rd practice and the Chiswick Family Doctors Practice, which collectively look after nearly half the population of Chiswick, told a well-attended meeting at the Methodist Church on Sutton Court Rd that they had no alternative if they were to address the problems that beset the NHS at a local level.

There is a shortage of GPs; they have found it “impossible” to attract new doctors, while at the same time there is an increase in demand for their services from an ageing population.

They hope that by merging their practices they will benefit from economies of scale and they will be able to be more efficient: they will have one patient list, one management system, one ordering system, one contract with the NHS and one website instead of three.

They are also planning to use a new interactive online system for booking appointments which they think will be fairer and free up doctors’ time to focus on the patients who really need their attention.

Currently there are about 10% to 15% of patients who do not show up for appointments and about 20% appointments which the GPs say could have been better handled by another healthcare professional.

Image above: Wellesley Road practice

Wellesley Rd practice threatened with closure if merger does not go ahead

The merger has been prompted by the retirement of Dr Nicola Burbidge from the Wellesley Rd practice. She held the contract with the NHS and none of the other doctors who work there want to take on that responsibility. They are not, however, planning to retire themselves, as has been rumoured, Dr Maria Caballero told the meeting.

Dr Richard Drewry from Grove Park Surgery said if Wellesley Rd did not merge with the other two practices it would be bought up by a private health company and “the standard of care would drop as a result.”

Improving access to healthcare

The merger was also prompted by the desire to improve patients’ access to healthcare – how quickly and how easily patients can get to see a doctor or other healthcare professional. At Grove Park Surgery the system currently in place is that patients wanting a quick appointment have to ring or turn up at 8am and hold on the line or wait in a queue in person for a considerable time.

Not everyone is able to do that, even if their need is urgent, and there is a 20% drop out rate. The current system is both stressful and unfair said Dr Drewry, and doctors are aware that there is an unseen need which they are not meeting, while at the same time they are wasting time seeing some patients who do not need to see a doctor.

They propose to move to an online booking using a system called Klinik, where patients answer a series of questions online, being triaged, or sorted into categories of need, by the software, which will be available to patients all day.

Doctors will look at all the incoming requests for appointments to check the right decisions are being made, but some patients will be referred directly to another healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or a pharmacist instead of a doctor. If the patient just needs a sick note for work they will be referred to an administrator.

That, they say, is more beneficial for the patient to get direct access to the type of help they need, and more beneficial to the doctors as it frees them up to see more patients who really need to see a doctor.

There is a financial incentive for GP surgeries to improve access. Their contracts with the NHS are overseen by the North West London ICS – ‘Integrated Community Care System’, who have made it a target this year for GPs to improve access to appointments, with a financial incentive attached.

Dr Drewry stressed they had made improved access their goal before the Integrated Community Care Board (ICB) introduced it as a specific target this year.

Image above: Graphic from video promoting the merger on Grove Park Surgery’s website

Consulting their patients

The three surgeries merged their partnership a year ago, but they retain separate contracts with the Integrated Community Care Board. The next step is to merge their clinical systems. They expected to be approved at a meeting on Monday 25 September, but it was delayed because patients from the Grove Park Surgery wanted “proper consultation.”

Chair of the Grove Park Surgery Patients Group James Armitage told The Chiswick Calendar:

“I don’t want to stand in their way. I am not qualified to say whether it’s a good or a bad thing. I just want to find out the pros and cons and let people know.”

READ ALSO: Merger of three of Chiswick’s GP practices delayed as patients seek “proper consultation”

Doctors from the three surgeries hastily arranged a succession of public meetings to share their plans with their patients and the ICB, which meets regularly every three months, is convening a special meeting to consider the merger once those meetings have been held.

The doctors at Wednesday’s meeting were Dr Richard Drewry and Dr Shantha Sethurajan from Grove Park Surgery; Dr Preethi Venkatesham from Chiswick Family Doctors Practice and Dr Maria Caballero from the Wellesley Road Practice.

Also at the meeting were patients group representatives James Armitage from Grove Park Surgery, Henry Gewanter from Chiswick Family Doctors Practice and Pamela Majorcas from the Wellesley Road Practice, as well as Amanda Meehan from Health Integration Partners, a consultancy firm supporting the merger, and Ellie Tobin, Head of Primary Care (Hounslow) at NHS North West London.

The next two public meetings will be an online event via Microsoft Teams at 1pm on Wednesday 11 October, and an in-person event on Monday 16 October from 8 – 9am so people who are working can have a chance to get to the meeting before the start their day’s work.

To join the Microsoft Teams Online meeting on Wednesday use this link: LINKMeeting ID: 331 535 438 23 / Passcode: rtPwxY.

The in-person event next Monday will be at Chiswick Methodist Church Sutton Ct Rd, Chiswick, London W4 3QD.

Image above: Graphic from video promoting the merger on Grove Park Surgery’s website

Advantages and disadvantages

Outlining the benefits of the merger, Dr Drewry said each of the practices had doctors with areas of specialist knowledge which patients at the other practices were not currently able to take advantage of, but after the merger they would have access to them.

For example, all the GPs at the Wellesley Rd practice are women. Dr Drewry and Dr Sethurajan are taking the lead on male health problems and if patients particularly wanted to see a male GP, with a larger pool of doctors available to them, they would be able to.

On the other hand, patients may not be able to see a doctor at the nearest surgery for an on the day appointment. The three surgeries are not merging premises; each will retain its own, and every effort will be made, they said, that patients could continue to attend their current surgery, but if a patient needs an urgent appointment they may have to see a doctor at one of the other buildings.

“Everyone wants continuity” said Dr Drewry. Doctors want to get to know their patients and to be able to provide continuity of care. Patients do not want to see a different doctor every time but want to go back to someone who knows their history.

“We will bend over backwards to make that work, but if it’s urgent it may be that you have to go and see someone at another site.”

Image above: Graphic from video promoting the merger on Grove Park Surgery’s website

Klinik – the new online system for booking appointments

Pamela Majorcas, the Chair of the Wellesley Road Surgery Patients Group, asked about older people who did not have smart phones or computers. How would they be able to access care?

The doctors said people who are unable to use the online system could still ring up or come into the surgeries in person and someone would help them fill in the answers online it in on their behalf. The phone lines are open from 8am – 6.30pm.

“We anticipate there will be a very small number who can’t fill out the form” Amanda Meehan told The Chiswick Calendar. “But I want to stress we are still open for business, we are still able to help.”

The online form uses a mix of binary questions with Yes / No answers; it will require some descriptive text from patients and it also uses graphics so patients can highlight the part of the body which hurts. It can also ask for pictures, for example of a rash.

Klinik is already in use in some other GP surgeries around the UK, (about 300 Amanda thinks). Set up in 2013, the company’s software has also been used by GPs in Finland, Portugal and the Netherlands, so it is not new.

“It is a nationally recognised system” Amanda told us, “which has been scrutinised by the NHS.”

What is less clear is whether there has been any independent analysis of how it is working.

Image above: Graphic promoting online triage software Klinik

Majority of patients are in favour, older people are less in favour than those of working age

The feedback the practices have received has been more positive from those of working age than it has from older people. Each surgery has a feedback form on its website. So far 44% Grove Park Surgery’s patients have responded; 42% Wellesley Rd’s patients have given their feedback, while only 13% patients at Chiswick Family Practice have responded.

So far the majority have said they are in favour:

“56.9% people who have answered are happy for the merger to go ahead” Amanda told us. “43.1 are not, and they are all over the age of 60 with mobility and accessibility issues.”

They are receiving disproportionately more feedback from people in the older group, and people who came to their first public meeting on Wednesday 4 October were also largely older: 53% of those who have filled out the feedback forms are over the age of 60, while 44% are aged 20 – 60, yet the majority of patients on their lists are of working age.

The new system should benefit people of working age particularly. Instead of the “stampede” at 8am, as Dr Drewry described it, they could go to work, take their children to school and log on at any point during the day to make an appointment for a new problem or one which was getting worse.

This sort of system designed to provide better access to healthcare at primary level is being rolled out across the country under the banner of ‘Modern General Practice’.

“It’s what every practice in the country is doing,” said Amanda.

What the NHS is worried about is people falling through the cracks, who maybe have early signs of cancer that should be checked, who are not being seen because access to a doctor is too difficult.

James Armitage told us he had been convinced at the first public meeting that the merger was on balance a positive thing:

“They convinced me they believed it would be an improvement. I hope it does work.”

Frequently Asked Questions

The three surgeries have published a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the merger which you can see here: FAQs.

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Big Cheese Weekender puts Chiswick Cheese Market on the map

Image above: Chiswick Cheese Market; photograph Fran Warde

How a well-meaning wish to help food businesses during the pandemic became a flourishing and successful business it its own right

The Chiswick Cheese Market has been running for two and a half years, taking place on the third Sunday of the month in Old Market Place outside the rank of shops beside the George IV pub in Chiswick High Road.

It has raised more than £20,000 for good causes, which it did not set out to do, and playing host to the Big Cheese Weekender on Sunday 15 October is real recognition from the cheese industry that it is recognised and respected in the world of quality artisan cheese makers, says organiser Lucy Cufflin.

Launched in 2020 by founders Patrick McGuigan and Tracey Colley, the Big Cheese Weekender is three days of free cheese events aimed at celebrating and supporting cheese makers. This year they are live-streaming live from Borough Market on Saturday 14 and from Chiswick Cheese Market on Sunday 15.

They describe it as ‘an opportunity to EXPLORE different cheeses, EXPLODE your taste-buds and EXPAND your cheese knowledge’.

‘Queen of Cheddar’, Mary Quicke will be there on Sunday. Her family have farmed in Newton St Cyres, Devon, for almost 500 years and their Quicke’s Extra Mature, aged for a minimum of 18 months, is considered one of the best Cheddars in the world.

Images above: Chiswick Cheese Market; photographs by Fran Warde (L) and Abi Pitcher (R)

A potted history of English cheese and why it’s relevant

Twice awarded ‘Affineur of the year’ Perry Wakeman will be giving demonstrations and explaining how to mature and store cheese. An ‘affineur’ is someone who matures cheeses rather than makes them, Lucy explained to me. In France the two were always considered as separate jobs, as they used to be in the UK before the Second World War.

Wartime rationing put paid to that. The need to make cheeses which could be easily cut and shared and would go as far as possible meant that dairies were amalgamated and all but six big-name cheeses were banned. There was a certain amount of under the counter cheese making going on, but all the effort was meant to be pooled into these six big manufacturers.

Quantity not quality was the mantra and we lost virtually all our artisan cheeses in the process, until they started to be rediscovered in the 1970s and ’80s, which saw a great resurgence in artisan cheeses.

Unlike Italy and France, where the weight of regional traditions bore heavily on what cheeses could be produced, there was a freedom to experiment and make new and interesting cheeses, said  Lucy. Until Covid that is, when the market for artisan cheeses (restaurants) disappeared at a stroke.

I realise I appear to be digressing, as it is easy to do talking to Lucy about cheese, but the Cheese Market is run by a group of volunteers, passionate about cooking, whose previous project the Cookbook festival also disappeared in the pandemic.

Seeing what was happening to friends in the artisan cheese industry and the plight of local traders in Chiswick High Rd forced to close, they hit upon the idea of the outdoor Cheese Market to create a focus of activity to bring people back to the High Rd.

“The Flower Market had paved the way so we decided to give it a go” said Lucy.

Images above: Chiswick Cheese Market; photographs by Fran Warde (L) and Abi Pitcher (R)

Raising more than £20,000 for good causes

As they are all volunteers and the stall holders pay for their stalls, it soon became a profit-making business. Over the two and a half years they have been running they have been able to give more than £20,000 to charity and other good causes, principally The Upper Room in Hammersmith, which supports homeless people.

The Upper Room received £6,576.86 last year and is about to receive another cheque for £5,223.14. One way in which the Cheese Market links local food businesses into their charitable giving is a collaboration with Macken Brothers butchers on Turnham Green Terrace, whereby the market puts up some money and The Upper Room is able to draw down supplies of meat which owner Rodney Macken lets them have at cost price.

The market has given £2,500 to Ukraininan charities through DEC, the Disasters Emergency Committee, Red Cross and a Ukraine charity, and hosted a day at the market to raise money for Ukraine with dancers and stalls raising over £8,000 directly for Ukrainian charities.

Image above: Tracey Longhurst with her husband Graham with their goats at Wildcroft Dairy

Cheese Market sponsorships for aspiring cheese makers

The Cheese Market has also started sponsoring aspiring cheese makers, providing a £5,000 grant for sponsorships of four new cheese makers to assist their journeys from kitchen to becoming commercial enterprises.

Tracey Longhurst is one cheese maker they have supported. She farms goats in Surrey with her husband Graham and wanted to make cheese entirely with products from their own farm. The Chiswick Cheese Market is sponsoring her to make a hard blue cheese from her goats’ milk.

The Cookbook crew (now Cookbook Kitchen Community Interest Company) is a collection of women who, as the name suggests, are all very interested in cooking – some more professionally than others. Two in particular – Lucy Cufflin and Abi Pitcher – have become interested in the making of cheese to the extent that they have done cheese exams and are now qualified to judge international competitions.

Images above: Abigail Pitcher; Lucy Cufflin

The Cheese Market crew

Lucy, a chef and food writer, trained at the Cordon Bleu. She spent 15 years running her own ski chalet during the winters and a private catering operation ‘Lucy’s Food’ in the summers and autumn. She became executive chef to Skiworld (UK’s largest independent ski chalet operator) creating their menus and recipes for their ski chalets.

Abi is the director of her own design agency and is already a wine expert. She has a diploma in Viticulture from Plumpton College (the English wine hub) and passed all the Wine & Spirit Education Trust exams including the Diploma.

They have both taken to learning about cheese very seriously, passing their Academy of Cheese Level Two (out of four) qualification, which entails tasting over 100 different cheeses, understanding and knowing detailed information about the cheese making process and maturation.

They have started on their Level Three cheese qualification, which will see them move from Members of the academy to Fellows, and they have both moved beyond the confines of the Chiswick Cheese Market to judge cheese and dairy awards. Abi was on a panel of judges for the Great Cheddar Challenge, on a mission to find the best Cheddar.

Jules Kane, who runs Jules the Foodie catering company in Chiswick, is the hands-on market manager, sorting out the nitty gritty of dealing with stall holders and the public each month, while Fran Warde gathers cheese news, forges links with the cheese world and adds colourful content to the Cheese Market’s social media.

The team considers the Big Cheese Weekender coming to the Chiswick market as something of an honour. For more details of the masterclasses available and a special ‘Cheesewick’ walk, see Lucy’s guest blog:

READ ALSO: Big Cheese Weekender comes to ‘Cheesewick’

The Chiswick Calendar is able to offer holders of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card a £10 discount on the ‘Tastes of the Unexpected’ masterclass. (Just enter VIP as a promotional code when booking and show up with your Club Card).

The Chiswick Cheese Market is also pleased to introduce the Cheesewick Cow, a life-sized and very Instagrammable Friesian, and families can join in the ‘hunt the cow’ trail amongst the stalls.

Images above: The rest of the Cheese Market team, Yuka Caves, Fran Warde, Donna Freed, Jo Pratt, Lucy Lee-Tirrell, Jules Kane, Sarah Cruz, Susan Rjbhandary

These are the rest of the Chiswick Cheese Market team:

Yuka Caves is a teacher, whose speciality is Japanese cuisine; Fran Warde – chef, food writer, author, editor; Donna Freed – author, radio presenter, editor; Jo Pratt – award-winning cookbook author, food stylist and TV presenter; Lucy Lee-Tirrell – cook, author, recipe developer; Jules Kane – chef and businesswoman (Jules the Foodie catering is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme); Sarah Cruz – graphic designer; Susan Rajbhandary – Nepalese chef.

The Chiswick Cheese Market takes place on the third Sunday of every month from 9.30am – 3pm.

chiswickcheesemarket.uk

Winners of WildChiswick 2023 photography competition

Image above: ‘Who’s Watching Who?’ – Paul Brown’s picture of an urban fox 

Overall winner: ‘Who’s Watching Who?’ – Paul Brown’s picture of an urban fox

Joanna Gilbert, founder of WildChiswick, invited the winners of her photography competition to a select soiree at room2 hotel on Tuesday 3 October.

The overall winner was ‘Who’s Watching Who?’ – Paul Brown’s picture of an urban fox, chosen by judge Andy Sands, the owner of Chiswick Camera Centre, who is himself an award winning wildlife photographer.

‘Hero to some Villain to others. The urban fox battling to coexist with humans’ wrote Paul about his photograph.

Each photographer was invited to submit their picture with a comment about why they had taken their picture. Some wrote poems, others just made comments.

The entries were submitted in six categories: Amazing amphibians and reptiles; Beautiful birds; Incredible insects and invertebrates; Powerful plants; Marvellous Mammals and Wild Ones, the category for photographers aged 16 and under.

There were 167 entries in all, including 39 entries in the Wild Ones 16 years old category. The youngest prize winner was just six years old.

“It was really good to share this with everyone and enjoy the flora and fauna around Chiswick” said Joanne Gilbert.

Here are the winners in each category:

Winners of each category

Amazing amphibians and reptiles

Images above: (L) The Common (not so boring) frog – Will Harris; (R) Toad on Tarmac – Clare Arnold

Winner – The Common (not so boring) frog, Will Harris

‘The Gardening’

‘Amidst the fragrant tapestry of lavender,
a common frog jumped right under.
Common in name and number,
but not in awe and wonder.
360 million years on Earth,
it can breathe through lungs and skin.
With porous epidermis,
oxygen diffuses in.
Ranging in colour
from greys and greens to yellows and brown,
Keep an eye out for it,
when Spring comes to town.

Runner-up – Toad on Tarmac, Clare Arnold

‘Toad rescued from a car park on its migration towards the lake at Chiswick Business Park’.

Images above: (L) Blue Heron by Pamela Oliveras; (R) Canada Chiswick by Andrew Potter

Beautiful birds

Winner – Blue Heron, Pamela Oliveras

‘I spotted this beautiful heron on a foggy morning.  I love the blue/grey contrasted against the soft foggy light in the background. It was an amazing and inspiring morning to be out and feel completely alive in the park.’

Runner-up – Canada Chiswick, Andrew Potter

‘Follow my leader!’

Images above: (L) Little Beauty in Red by Zita Dementer-Vidak; (R) Bee in Flowers by Lisa Mauro

Incredible insects and invertebrates

Winner – Little Beauty in Red, Zita Dementer-Vidak

‘I met this beautiful ladybird at “Chiswick House and Gardens” … one of my favourite places from Chiswick!’

Runner-up – Bee in Flowers, Lisa Mauro

‘I wanted to capture this beautiful bee on this pretty flower’.

Images above: (L) Chiswick Riverside by Yasmin Layli; (R) Bloom by Nagar Rad

Powerful plants

Winner – Chiswick Riverside, Yasmin Layli

‘Chiswick has a lot of nature near the River Thames and by looking at this photo you’ll not believe that it’s actually taken in Chiswick. I love the clouds and the tree in this photo overlooking the river Thames.’

Runner-up Bloom, Nagar Rad

‘I’m immersing my hand into my boundless memories, and a familiar street strikes my soul. A street that surely has a counterpart all around the world. A bicycle will definitely pass through the street sprinkled with pink; further enhancing the meaning of this scene.’

Images above: ‘Who’s Watching Who?’ by Paul Brown’; Just Chillin’ by Maura Maxwell

Marvellous Mammals

Winner – Who’s Watching Who, Paul Brown

‘Hero to some Villain to others. The urban fox battling to coexist with humans.’

Runner-up – Just Chillin’, Maura Maxwell

‘There are always plenty of squirrels scurrying around – this one caught my eye because of the beautiful colour scape created by the squirrel and the sun pouring through the leaves of the tree. I was amazed it stayed still for long enough for me to capture it, but I guess it was quite happy just chilling on his branch!’

Image above: Bonding by Esher Prujanski

Images above: Blue bug on a rose leaf by Jack Donnelly; Blue Dragonfly on flower by Pablo Rocha

Wild Ones

Winner – Bonding, Esher Prujanski

‘I was walking in Chiswick Park and then I noticed something unusual, which was that there were two huge snails stuck together. Everyone knows snails are usually tiny and unsocial, and this was the exact opposite, so I decided to take a photo of it.’

Runner-up – Blue bug on a rose leaf, Jack Donnelly (4-9 years)

‘We were looking at the roses along Wellesley Road and found this bug. I thought the colour was so cool.’

Runner-up – Blue Dragonfly on flower, Pablo Rocha (10-16 years)

‘While looking for birds to photograph at Chiswick House and Gardens, I spotted some blue dragonflies drinking the nectar from a flowering bush. They moved around very quickly but I was lucky enough to catch one staying still, allowing me to take this closeup photo.

‘Bees often get the spotlight for their importance for pollinating flowers, but insects like these are very important to the process as well!’

Image above: Joanne Gilbert announcing the winners; photograph by Karen Liebreich

Photographs to go on show around Chiswick

The winning photographs will now go on show in various places around Chiswick. You will be able to see them displayed here:

St Michael’s Church, Elmwood Road, Grove Park

Tuesday 10 October, 3.30pm – 5pm

Wednesday 11 October, 2pm – 5pm

Thursday 12th October,10am – 3pm

Repair Cafe at Christ Church:

Saturday 21 October, 10.30am – 1pm

Boston Manor Park:

Sunday 22 October, afternoon

Chiswick Flower Market:

Sunday 5 November, 9am – 4pm

wildchiswick.com

A project to make the River Thames drinkable

Image above: Maartin Van Der Schaaf and Li An Phoa testing water quality on the banks of the River Thames

Dutch couple hoping to unify River Thames groups into action 

Dutch couple Li An Phoa and Maarten Van Der Schaaf are campaigning to make our rivers drinkable again. The co-founders of the ambitious environmental initiative have set their sights on the River Thames and are travelling the length of the Thames Path meeting environmental groups and anyone who would like to get involved along the way.

Li An’s journey started with a chance encounter with a pristine Canadian river in 2005, the Rupert, leading to a decade-long commitment to a vision of drinkable rivers worldwide.

Li An’s experience canoeing the Rupert, where she could drink from it for weeks without any issues (in fact she says she experienced vitalising effects such as thicker hair and better eyesight) left a lasting impression.

She discovered the river was a source of clean, potable water, but when she returned a few years later, she found it had been polluted. Due to industrial developments, the once-drinkable river had become contaminated, causing illness among the local population and harm to aquatic life.

This transformation shook Li An, and she decided to dedicate her life to restoring and protecting rivers. Over the years, she observed the decline in nature’s health, as indicated by various reports, and resolved to make “drinkable rivers” a global reality.

She and her partner’s mission is not just about restoring the Thames in the UK to drinkable conditions; it is about uniting communities and organisations to create a collective vision for cleaner rivers worldwide.

Maarten and Li An have been actively engaging with local groups, national organisations, and passionate local people who share their goal. Together, they have formed a network in London known as the “Thames River Family” to work towards this common objective, hoping to move beyond smaller and fragmented campaigns.

On Friday (6 October), on their journey along the Thames Path, the couple reached London and were hosted by one of Chiswick’s popular river users, Active 360, who organise paddleboarding from their base at Kew Bridge, where they gave a talk on drinkable rivers.

Maarten and Li An sample water quality and collate data along the banks of rivers where they meet with people interested in protecting and generally treating rivers better.

Image above: Maartin Van Der Schaaf and Li An Phoa testing water quality on the banks of the River Thames

A holistic approach

Speaking to The Chiswick Calendar, Maarten described their approach as ‘holistic’, involving extensive hour-long testing of rivers for 28 various parameters including nitrate levels, temperature, plastic pollution, eColi, and even the presence of indicator species like damselflies. They’ve developed a data platform where anyone can register and contribute to the ongoing monitoring efforts.

This collaborative approach, they hope, will encourage individuals, swimmers, kayakers, and policymakers to join hands in making the Thames and other rivers healthier.

“We suggest a drinkable river as a common compass, a common direction to work towards,” Maarten said, “Instead of all these fragmented campaigns that there are – a lot of great work has been done – but we don’t want to get stuck into the discussions like Thames Water should do this or the famers should do this.

“We need to get together and say that a drinkable Thames is something we all want, all of us and what steps can we take to achieve that.”

“…We’ve been reaching out to a lot of these local groups or national groups or Thames-related groups to work together with them. We see basically every morning at 9:00 a.m… people show up from all the nooks and crannies people come and work with us for a bit; we do citizen science together.

“Also local councillors join us on the walk. It’s very exciting actually… we try to go beyond the anger and try to say ‘okay what can we do’ because below the anger is the care and the love we have for the river.”

While Maarten and Li An are from the Netherlands, they have become honorary neighbours of the Thames, thanks to the hospitality of local people who have hosted them along their journey which Maarten said reflects the spirit of collaboration needed to help clean up the Thames.

Images above: Maartin and Li An arriving along the towpath

What can be done?

Maarten admit the list of obstacles, or “to-do’s” as he describes them, are “basically endless”. But despite this, he and Li An are hopeful they can inspire various “action communities” to emerge out of river users, local councillors and those that care about the river. These communities would change the way we think about the river and, in theory, encourage policies which seek to improve the Thames’ drinkability.

But what can be done to improve the Thames’ health and make it more drinkable?

One notable partnership Maarten and Li An have established is with a the “Thames Landscapes Strategy”, which focuses on rewilding riverbanks.

“This is very interesting, I think. They take a 100-year view, and they started in 1994, one of their interventions that they do is a rewilding of the landscape and river banks especially. In London, a lot of the banks are concrete banks right? But if you have green banks, with normal plants on the banks and there is an exchange between the water and the banks which is natural then you get this sort of self-cleaning effect.”

Maarten added that from a wider perspective, the pesticides used in farming should be addressed, as much of this runoff ends in the Thames, as do pharmaceutical residues from medicine urinated out by the population, highlighting the need for collective responsibility.

Despite the daunting challenges ahead, Maarten and Li An remain committed to their mission. They have seen a significant number of participants and supporters, with hundreds of people joining their walks and research efforts. The initiative has spread across various locations, showing there is widespread concern for river health.

Their message is clear: a drinkable river is not a distant dream, but a vision that can be realised through unity and a shared sense of responsibility. As they continue their journey, they hope to inspire even more people to join their cause and make rivers drinkable again, one step at a time.

For more information on how to get involved with making the River Thames drinkable, collecting data or becoming a partner with Maarten and Li An, see their website drinkablerivers.org

You can buy Maarten and Li An’s recently released book on Drinkable Rivers here: drinkablerivers.org/drinkable-rivers-book

Li An Phoa speaking at TED about Care for Drinkable Rivers

October books 2023

What’s new and good to read this month? Dan Coombes has a look at what’s on offer and chooses A Stroke of the Pen: The Lost Stories by Terry Pratchett, Night Side of the River by Jeanette Wilson and Liberation Day by George Saunders

A Stroke of the Pen: The Lost Stories – Terry Pratchett

Hands up, I am a huge Terry Pratchett fan, and this collection of his previously unpublished early stories – before he found fame with the legendary Discworld novels – is certainly a must for all lovers of his work. But ask any Pratchett lover just how good a writer he was and they’ll mostly tell you the same thing: he was a literary genius would’ve won pretty much every highbrow book award going if he wasn’t pigeonholed as a fantasy writer. There’s something in here for anyone and everyone interested in the formative years of one of the greatest authors ever in this or any other universe.

A truly unmissable, beautifully illustrated collection of unearthed stories from the pen of Sir Terry Pratchett: award-winning and bestselling author, and creator of the phenomenally successful Discworld series. Twenty early short stories by one of the world’s best loved authors, each accompanied by exquisite original woodcut illustrations. These are rediscovered tales that Pratchett wrote under a pseudonym for newspapers during the 1970s and 1980s. Whilst none are set in the Discworld, they hint towards the world he would go on to create, containing all of his trademark wit, satirical wisdom and fantastic imagination. Meet Og the inventor, the first caveman to cultivate fire, as he discovers the highs and lows of progress; haunt the Ministry of Nuisances with the defiant evicted ghosts of Pilgarlic Towers; visit Blackbury, a small market town with weird weather and an otherworldly visitor; and go on a dangerous quest through time and space with hero Kron, which begins in the ancient city of Morpork…

Images above: A Stroke of the Pen: The Lost Stories cover, author Terry Pratchett

Night Side of the River – Jeanette Winterson

Brilliant author. Ghost stories. October. If a world exists where this isn’t one of the easiest, greatest and most perfectly timed recommendations for the month beginning with O then I certainly don’t want to go there. It’d probably be very, very dull and not have enough chocolate cake, for starters.

The genre-bending and masterful new collection of ghost stories from Jeanette Winterson. A ghost has no substance, but it has power – and presence – and it can appear in alternative forms. In the metaverse, we are all alternative forms. The Dead will join us. Our lives are digital, exposed and always-on. We track our friends and family wherever they go. We have millennia of knowledge at our fingertips. We know everything about our world. But we know nothing about theirs. We have changed, but our ghosts have not.

They’ve simply adapted and innovated, found new channels to reach us. They inhabit our apps and wander the metaverse just as they haunt our homes and our memories, always seeking new ways to connect. To live amongst us. To remind us. To tempt us. To take their revenge. These stories are not ours to tell. They are the stories of the dead – of those we’ve lost, loved, forgotten… and feared.

Some are fiction. But some may not be.

Images above: Night Side of the River cover, author Jeanette Winterson

Liberation Day – George Saunders

Obviously a good portion of your October time should be spent drinking hot drinks with novelty flavours in them, frolicking through piles of autumn leaves and wearing cable-knit jumpers throughout the next autumnal heatwave, so a fantastic collection of science fiction tinged, dystopian and wonderfully imaginative short stories from n award winning author is the perfect reading solution to dip in and out of in between seasonal activities.

The first short story collection in ten years from the Man Booker Prize-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of Lincoln in the Bardo. George Saunders returns with a collection of short stories that make sense of our increasingly troubled world. A masterful collection that explores ideas of power, ethics and justice, and cuts to the very heart of what it means to live in community with our fellow humans. With his trademark prose – wickedly funny, unsentimental, and perfectly tuned – Saunders continues to challenge and surprise: here is a collection of prismatic, deeply resonant stories that encompass joy and despair, oppression and revolution, bizarre fantasy and brutal reality.

Images above: Liberation Day front cover; author George Saunders

Residents invited to review plans for redevelopment of Ravenscourt Park Hospital

Image above: The Royal Masonic Hospital in Ravenscourt Park

Hundreds of new homes, a care home and community space proposed

Developer Telereal Trillium has extended an invitation to local residents to review the final plans for the redevelopment of the Grade II listed Ravenscourt Park Hospital, situated on the west side of the park.

An exhibition showcasing the updated plans will be hosted at the hospital, formerly known as the Royal Masonic, on Tuesday, 10 October, running from 4.00pm to 8.00pm. For those unable to attend the event, the plans will be made available on the project website starting from 11 October.

Images above: An aerial view of the site; Savills

The iconic red brick building, built in 1933, was renamed Ravenscourt Park Hospital in 2002 but ceased operations four years later. In 2015, plans were formulated for its transformation into the London International Hospital, designed to cater to overseas patients requiring surgical procedures, but the project encountered financial difficulties and left unresolved debts.

Telereal Trillium’s proposal envisions the redevelopment of the Grade II listed structure and its surrounding grounds, leading to the creation of six separate blocks which will accommodate hundreds of new homes, a care home, and a space for community purposes.

  • Block A, serving as the primary entrance to the old hospital, complete with a substantial hall and room, is designated to become a hub for cultural and community activities open to public access, but the developer acknowledges the challenge of identifying a suitable occupant capable of maintaining an income to support upkeep.
  • Blocks B-D, comprising the remainder of the existing building, will undergo conversion and expansion to accommodate approximately 150 new homes.
  • Block E is a newly proposed building that will provide affordable homes, with the specific size and tenure to be determined through discussions with Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
  • Block F represents another new building that will house a care home, offering around 60 care beds.

Images above: Outline proposals for the Ravenscourt Park site; Telereal Trillium

Hammersmith Society says current proposals are “unacceptable”

Telereal Trillium emphasises that the project will involve a sensitive approach to restoration and conservation, respecting the building’s heritage while enhancing the landscape and integrating new publicly accessible pedestrian routes throughout the site.

However, earlier proposals presented in May this year received sharp criticism from local residents’ associations and The Hammersmith Society. They expressed concerns that the development, as initially proposed, could potentially harm the very buildings it aimed to improve.

The Hammersmith Society, in particular, raised objections to proposed roof-level extensions on the original hospital, stating:

“Restoring the Ravenscourt Hospital buildings and bringing the campus, particularly Block A, into community use is a long-overdue realisation of a wonderful asset, and we wholly support this project intent.

“However, the current proposals are unacceptable, and would destroy the wonder of this building. The scheme design is heading in the wrong direction, and an alternative approach has to be found to realize this project.”

Following the exhibition on Tuesday, Hammersmith residents will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the final plans until 24th October. Subsequently, Telereal Trillium will submit a formal planning application to Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

Tube strikes cancelled as union says “significant progress” made

Image above: London Underground

RMT claims victory

Two planned strikes by London Underground workers this week have been called off, the RMT union announced.

Its members had been due to strike on Wednesday and Friday, closing the Underground over plans to reduce staff numbers by up to 600 posts to save costs.

The union said the strikes had been called off after “significant progress” in talks with London Underground at conciliation service ACAS, although there were still elements of dispute and wider negotiations continued over pensions and working agreements.

The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said the threat of a strike had led to “securing this victory”, adding:

“We still remain in dispute over outstanding issues around pensions and working agreements and will continue to pursue a negotiated settlement.”

“The significant progress means that key elements have been settled although there remains wider negotiations to be had in the job, pensions and working agreements dispute,” a spokesperson for the union said.

“Good news for London”

Nick Dent, London Underground’s director of customer operations, said:

“We are pleased that the RMT has withdrawn its planned industrial action this week and that the dispute on our change proposals in stations is now resolved.

“This is good news for London and we will continue to work closely with our trade unions as we evolve London Underground to ensure we can continue to support the capital in the most effective way.”

Aled Jones’ attacker given 24-month detention

Image above: Aled Jones

Teenager given 24-month detention

A teenager who threatened to cut off Chiswick resident and Songs of Praise presenter Aled Jones’s head during a robbery, has been placed under detention.

Riverside Club to repurpose tennis courts to Padel courts

Image above: padel courts visualisation; Virgin Active

Company supported by Andy Murray in charge of proposals

Riverside Health and Racquets Club in Chiswick, situated on Riverside Drive, is gearing up to introduce Padel to the range of sports it offers. The club plans to achieve this transformation by repurposing some of its existing tennis courts. Game4Padel Ltd, a company with investment from Sir Andy Murray, has drafted designs for eight new covered Padel courts.

Earlier this year, the club had set up a series of pop-up Padel courts for demonstrations, hinting at the excitement building around the sport.

Padel tennis is already played at Rocks Lane sports centre on the common beside Turnham Green Terrace. They have recently added more Padel courts to accommodate demand. Rocks Lane Padel first team recently won the National Championships.

READ ALSO: Rocks Lane Padel team win national championships

READ ALSO: More padel courts approved for Rocks Lane sports centre

The Riverside Health and Racquets Club, a part of the Virgin Active chain, has submitted an application for the conversion, citing the underutilisation of existing tennis courts and the potential for Padel to diversify the recreational activities available to the local community. The proposed development is to be executed in two phases, with four courts in each phase, subject to approval.

Documents accompanying the application reveal plans to repurpose a 0.52-hectare area currently occupied by three tennis courts, with a reduction in space for six others.

The new Padel courts, measuring 20m x 10m each, will be enclosed by metal posts, featuring clear toughened glass and metal open mesh panels. The playing surface will be covered with blue artificial grass, akin to standard tennis court surfacing. To ensure playability in all weather conditions, a canopy of tensile fabric stretched over a structural timber frame will cover the courts.

The application emphasises the existing shortage of suitable Padel venues in the local area, despite the existence of several facilities in West London, including the expansion of the Rocks Lane multi-sports complex.

Padel is said to be the world’s fastest-growing sport, gaining popularity in the UK over the past few years. The sport has received recognition from Sport England. Governed by the LTA, Padel is celebrated for its accessibility to players of all levels.

Notably, besides Sir Andy Murray, David Beckham has also made investments in the sport. Regular players in the Padel community reportedly include renowned athletes such as Rafael Nadal, Lionel Messi, Maria Sharapova, as well as esteemed football managers Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.

For further information and the opportunity to provide comments on this development, the planning application reference is P/2023/1959 on Hounslow Council’s website.

Chiswick In Film Festival 2023

Images above: Blitzer and Shaun; Will Becher, lead animator with Aardman, with Shaun the Sheep at Chiswick Cinema; Andrea Carnevali with Shaun

Everybody wanted their photograph taken with Shaun

I must say it felt like a bit of a marathon because I watched all six films – The Queen, Shaun the Sheep, Mike Bassett England Manager, Rye Lane, Victim and De-Lovely. Who knew all those films had connections to Chiswick?!

I love finding out how films are made – why the story is shot in the way it is, what inspired the creators, where the scenes were shot and what difficulties they had along the way. We heard lots of industry secrets and some hilarious, revealing and moving anecdotes from our guests in the Q&A sessions which accompanied each screening at the Chiswick In Film festival over the weekend.

Images above: Blitzer and Shaun; Will Becher showing Rosie and Roger Lang how they move; Jenny de Montfort photographing Shaun

I have to say, with all due deference to industry bigwigs Andy Harries, Sir Stephen Frears and Christine Langan, despite the star power of Ricky Tomlinson, Stephen K Amos and Kevin McNally, the sheer joy of Rye Lane and its charismatic young writer Nathan Bryon, and the laughs created by the Mike Bassett lot, the characters I most enjoyed meeting were Shaun the Sheep and his sheepdog mate Blitzer. They and their handler, Lead Animator with Aardman animation Will Becher, were captivating.

Amongst other things, he told us he is working on a new Wallace and Gromit film… early days, but something to look forward to. The Chiswick connection is Rob Sprackling, who was one of the writing team on the film and is also one of the organisers of the Chiswick In Film Festival.

The making of The Queen and the importance of meaningless metaphors

Images above: L to R: Sir Stephen Frears; Christine Langan; Andy Harries; Bridget Osborne; photograph Chris Parker

Series Six of The Crown is due out later this autumn. It will cover the period of Princess Diana’s death – ground which has already been covered by the same team, writer Peter Morgan and executive producer, co-founder of Left Bank Pictures Andy Harries, in The Queen (2006), with Helen Mirren as the late Queen Elizabeth II and Michael Sheen as Tony Blair.

Andy Harries was at the Chiswick Film Festival on Friday 29 September, talking with co-producer on The Queen, Christine Langan, and director Sir Stephen Frears, to the editor of The Chiswick Calendar Bridget Osborne. Andy is our Chiswick connection, as he has lived in Chiswick with his family for 30 years.

Images above: Sir Stephen Frears; Christine Langan; Andy Harries

The most memorable quote of the night came from Stephen, talking about the scene in the film when the Queen is driving her Landrover at Balmoral by herself and she gets stuck crossing a river. While she waits for help she sees the magnificent stag (a ’14 pointer’, referring to its very impressive set of antlers) which Prince Philip is stalking, and for the first time since Diana’s death we see her cry.

“If you want to make a successful film, always remember to include a meaningless metaphor” he joked.

(Or at least I think he was joking. You can never be quite sure with the multi-award winning Sir Stephen. He has a very dry sense of humour).

Image above: Suzette Llewellyn (L); Nathan Bryon (Centre)

At last, a writer who just wants to create joy and positivity!

I think the film I enjoyed most, partly because I hadn’t seen it before, was Rye Lane, the romcom which premiered at the Sundance Festival earlier this year. Co-writer Nathan Bryon looks like he is barely out of school and yet he is a successful children’s author and writer of TV series and his first (very successful) feature film.

He was a breath of fresh air, talking about how he just wanted to make films that reflected the lives of people like him and his mates. Unfortunately his connection with Chiswick was not an entirely happy one, as he shared his house here with quite a few mice, he told us, so maybe it’s not surprising he has now moved away!

Rye Lane is a really joyous film, and very colourful, everyone’s wearing bright, interesting clothes, to underline the upbeat message. It has been very well received by audiences and critics alike and trumpeted as the film which has breathed new life into the romcom format.

It is the freshness of it which is so noticeable – a debut director, up and coming actors and a first time feature film pair of writers. It hadn’t really occurred to me before how much Black people are stereotyped in films – always the gangster – “either very rich or vey poor” said Nathan. It is just very refreshing seeing two normal young Londoners falling in love.

Nathan is clearly a huge talent and there is so much good stuff yet to come from him, I really hope he comes back to tell us about his latest projects in the future too.

Image above: Steve Barron and Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson on starting his acting career at the age of 42

The Mike Bassett England Manager panel was a riot – Ricky Tomlinson, the film’s creator Rob Sprackling, director Steve Barron and former Sports News editor of the BBC Mihir Bose sharing their stories from making the film and their memories of how awful English football was in the early 1990s with journalist and former BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Julian Worricker.

The session took a serious turn when someone asked Ricky Tomlinson how he got into acting and why, after working most of his life in the building trade, he had only become an actor in his mid forties. It happened after he came out of prison.

He and his friend and co-worker Des Warren were jailed in 1973. Ricky was sentenced to two years after being convicted of conspiring to intimidate and affray during a strike. He had taken part in the first national building workers’ strike in 1972 to improve wages and safety regimes on sites.

The Court of Appeal declared the conviction ‘unsafe’ two years ago and they were exonerated, but not before Des Warren had died.

Image above: Chris Parker interviewing Stephen K Amos 

The 1961 film Victim ‘still relevant’ for the LGBT community more than sixty years on says Stephen K Amos

The discussion with Stephen K Amos about the 1961 black and white film Victim was also serious. Although he is known best as a stand up comedian, Stephen has made documentaries about homophobia, Prejudice and Pride and Batty Man.

He said he had decided to come out and make a stand when he saw a face flash up one day on the news of someone he knew. It was a friend of his who had been attacked in Clapham, the victim of a homophobic attack. Two men were attacked just this summer outside the LGBT pub the Two Brewers in Clapham, also random victims of a homophobic attack.

He spoke about how things were for young gay men in the 1980s and how relevant the film, about the blackmail of a gay man in the early sixties, before homosexuality was legalised, still is.

Both Dirk Bogarde and Sylvia Syms took huge risks with their careers by making Victim.  It is a good film in its own right as a thriller, but its significance was that coming after the publication of the Wolfson report and the change in the law, it was credited with changing public opinion in Britain about homosexuality.

It was the first film to even mention the word ‘homosexual’ and was banned in the United States even though there was no sex in it and the blackmail picture was merely of Dirk Bogarde putting his arm around a friend (fully clothed).

As for the Chiswick connections – the film was shot in Chiswick, with scenes of St Nicholas Church and Chiswick Mall, and Sylvia Syms lived here before she died.

Image above: Colin Firth talking about the selection of the young film makers award, in a pre-recorded video message

Kevin McNally on fifty years of acting

The grand finale of the weekend was the presentation of the young film makers awards – of which, read more here:

READ MORE: Olive Tennant wins Chiswick In Film Festival Young Film maker award

And Kevin McNally talking about his tremendous career (nearly 60 films, 111 TV series and counting … as well as theatre performances, radio and video games).

Image above: Kevin McNally; photograph Frank Noon

We screened De-Lovely, the bio-pic of Cole Porter, which has a scene in it of the Classic Bridge at Chiswick House (doubling for the bridge in New York’s Central Park). Kevin plays one of Cole Porter’s closest friends.

He talked about filming De-Lovely and about his first role in a television series, iClaudius (currently available to watch on iPlayer). The 1976 adaptation of Robert Graves book about the early history of the Roman Empire was absolutely required viewing when it first aired, in the days when everyone watched the same thing at the same time and talked about it the next day at work.

The baby-faced Kevin was straight out of RADA, in a smash hit with actors such as Sian Phillips, Derek Jacobi and Brian Blessed.

He remembered being in the first Poldark (1977, again a huge hit, but “unwatchable now” he says) and films such as The Spy Who Loved Me, the James Bond film with Roger Moore, also in 1977).

He talked about Pirates of the Caribbean – he is the only actor to have appeared in all five films, and claims to know no more than the rest of us about whether there will be a sixth (supposedly in development) but thinks if there is, Johnny Depp should be in it.

I asked him what was his favourite job. (Was it one of the 60 films or the 111 TV series, or maybe it was appearing on stage opposite Maggie Smith in The Lady in the Van I wondered?)

“The next one” he said.

See if you can spot the films and their Chiswick connections in Andrea Carnevali’s trailer for the festival.

Image above: Chiswick In Film Festival organisers Keiichi Furuya, manager of Chiswick Cinema; Andrea Carnevali; Rob Sprackling; Bridget Osborne; Chris Parker

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Halloween, half term and all that …

Image above: Halloween; photograph by Ljubima Woods

Ghouls and ghosts, pumpkins and the paranormal

If you are looking for Halloween things to do with the kids, there are activities at Syon Park and Osterley Park. If you are prepared to travel a bit further, Hobbledown Heath in Surrey is going all out, as is Hampton Court and the Wetland Centre in Barnes, with ‘eek week’. You can also pick your own pumpkins.

Sadly, Chiswick House does not have a repeat of the magnificent event it held last year, where a large part of the gardens was given over to ghosts and ghouls, pumpkins and the paranormal, but there are plenty of other places with Halloween activities for children.

Image above: Zoolab’s ‘Creepy Critters’

Syon House

Syon House in Isleworth offers ‘Creepy Critters’ and a spooky Halloween family trail. Zoolab are back with their animal handling sessions, but this time they promise creatures which are ‘hairier and scarier!’

In the house itself, meet costumed characters in the ‘rotten underbelly of the house ‘ and hear tales of ‘gory guts, disgusting gravy and a sinister tale of gunpowder and plot.

Wednesday 25 / Thursday 26 / Friday 27 October.

Creepy Critters, Syon Park

Image above: Osterley Park Halloween trail

Osterley Park

Osterley Park offers a Family Halloween trail through the park from 14 – 29 October. The King wants the Monster Hunter to capture the monsters in the woods. As you follow the tale of the Monster Hunter you will find a number of activities along the way.

Pumpkin carving  27 – 29 October takes place in the Stables Walled Garden between 11am and 3pm.

Halloween trail, Osterley Park

Image above: Halloween at Hobbledown Heath 

Hobbledown Heath

Hobbledown Heath, at Staines Road, Hounslow, TW14 0HH, describes itself as ‘London’s largest adventure playground’. There is a pumpkin trail where you look for hidden letters to make a secret word. Work it out and you can pick up a sweet treat at the end. There is a fancy dress monster ball, spooky science workshops, Halloween shows and storytelling sessions.

www.hobbledown.com

Images above: Halloween at Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court

Explore Henry VIII’s notoriously haunted palace at Hampton Court. ‘As you tiptoe through the dark winding corridors and courtyards, you’ll feel the chilling presence of our infamous ghosts hiding around every corner. Some may even be closer than you expect, but keep your distance – these ghosts are best kept to the past.’

Watch as portraits come to life in the Gallery of the Damned and enter the Council Chamber to take part in a spine-tingling séance.

www.hrp.org.uk

Image above: Drawing by Quentin Blake to publicise autumn at the London Wetland Centre

WWT London Wetland Centre

WWT London Wetland Centre is a great day out at any time of the year but they always put on a special effort in school holidays. For ‘eek-week’ (21 – 29 October) they have put together an interactive trail. They ask: ‘Will you dare to put your hand in an eel box, grab a photo op with a bat, or listen out for the croak of a toad?’ It’s a ‘weirdly wild day out’ for the whole family. Activities include pond dipping and potion making, as well as the usual daily otter feeding.

www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/london

Image above: Children exploring the London Museum of Water and Steam

London Museum of Water and Steam

Not a Halloween event as such, but the London Museum of water and Steam has recast its educational sessions about the kinds of bugs which live in water as ‘mini monsters’ to get in on the act. They have a ‘Soggy Science Show’ for October half term, as well as their usual storytelling and craft sessions.

www.waterandsteam.org.uk

Image above: Pumpkins growing at Crockford Bridge Farm

Pick your own pumpkins

There are a few places in Surrey where you can go to pick your own pumpkins.

Crockford Bridge Farm

Crockford Bridge Farm at New Haw Road, Addlestone, Nr. Weybridge, Surrey KT15 2BU offers pumpkin picking and a ‘sausage fest’ from 30 September to 15 October (closed Mondays). You do need to book.

When the picking is over, the Pumpkin Festival begins, involving jugglers, mime, dancers, stilt walkers and an aerialist. Throughout half term week (20 – 29 October) there are vintage fairground games and rides to try, pumpkin displays and arty installations, pumpkin carving sessions and fancy dress, with a prize for the best costume.

www.crockfordbridgefarm.co.uk

Image above: Garson Farm

Garson Farm

Garson Farm at Winterdown Road, Esher, Surrey, KT10 8LS offers pick your own fruit and vegetables throughout the year. Book online for a pumpkin pass to pick your own any day between 7 and 31 October.

www.garsons.co.uk

Image above: Secretts Farm pumpkin season

Secretts of Milford

Secretts of Milford at Hurst Farm, Chapel Lane, Milford, Surrey GU8 5HU is also offering pumpkin picking during half term week. They offer activity sheets for children to take part in a scavenger hunt, hot drinks and snacks throughout half term week, 21 – 29 October, including pumpkin soup, pumpkin curry and spicy pumpkin cake.

www.secretts.co.uk

Image above: The lake at Chiswick House, Halloween 2022; photograph Ljubima Woods

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New Chiswick street food market Sunday 22 October – what to expect

Winners of the British Street Food Awards bring an explosion of international flavours to the first Chiswick street food market

Guest blog by Richard Johnson

We’re BEYOND excited to launch Food St – our new street food market – in West London this Autumn. We’ll be taking over the car park outside the George IV – the site of Chiswick’s first outdoor market, set up by soldiers returning from WW1 – on the fourth Sunday of every month. And we’ll be hoping to entice visitors down to experience all of Chiswick’s independent shops, cafes and restaurants.

We run the biggest street food competition in the world. Currently in 16 countries across Europe – and we’re launching in the US in November. So it makes sense that the opening of Food St will be peppered with British Street Food Awards finalists such as Avila, the Venezuelan street food traders from London who refuse to specialise in arepas. Yesterday’s news. For them it’s all about the patacon – a green plantain sandwich made from smashed and twice-fried green plantain.

You’ll meet Nick, the Potje Man, and his EXTRAORDINARY Cape Malay flavours. Nick’s signature dish is his 12-hour Welsh lamb. “I use a dry rub of toasted mustard seeds, peri peri, oregano, rosemary and black pepper. Then I slow roast it for 12 hours with garlic, onions, white wine and chicken stock.” It’s served with his famous Cape Malay curry sauce, on a bed of yellow rice with added peri peri, cashew nut cream, toasted almonds and coriander. “Super tasty.” Though he says so himself.

Image above: Amani Kitchen

We’re also bringing street food royalty. Amani Kitchen – the winner of the People’s Choice at the 2023 British Street Food Awards – will be there. Cooking has been Amani’s passion for as long as she can remember.

“As a child my happy place was the big table in my grandparents’ house in Iraq – full of delicious, hearty and aromatic food made by my grandmother.”

Hunt out her Kuba. But also get to know her plant-based menu – whether it’s her authentic Arabic falafel, spinach fatayer with pomegranate seeds or biscuits filled with dates.

Images above: Marzena and Nigel from Ma Ma Boutique Bakery

The Chiswick representation will be high. Marzena and Nigel will be there – they run Chiswick’s dedicated gluten-free Ma Ma Boutique Bakery. It’s a bit special.

“We blend tradition with innovation, creating new, feel-good classics” says Marzena. “We believe that bread should be made the old-fashioned way, using only natural ingredients from the finest sources and long fermentation methods without compromising on taste or texture.”

The bakery is at the Hammersmith end of the High Road, and the couple are ready to show off their handmade breads, pastries, cakes and sandwiches to the rest of Chiswick.

Images above: Food from Ma Ma Boutique Bakery 

Mick from The Japanese Knife Company is excited. He wants to talk knife technique from the small Food St presentation stage. So does Jo Pratt, who’ll be talking about her new book (and maybe teaching us a recipe) in November or December.

The Whistling Oyster want a pitch – subject to getting approval for a temporary alcohol license. The Chiswick fish mongers are independently owned, and want to push their seafood trike down to Food St. Maybe serve up some oysters washed down with an ice-cold beer – or glass of champagne?

Image above: Maria and Mario at Mari Deli on Chiswick Mall; photograph Frank Noon

We’ve been BEGGING Mari Deli and Dining to come and trade with us. We knew the authentic Italian deli and restaurant, situated on the corner of Eyot Gardens – a picturesque and peaceful residential road in Chiswick Mall – would be a PERFECT addition. Well…..they’ve only gone and said YES!

For the past six years, the independent, family-run business has served the riverside neighbourhood impeccably. With Marina, the famous Fiat 500 Giardinetta – open trunk stuffed with colourful fruit and vegetables – parked up outside.

Over the years, Marina has become a local celebrity. She even graced the BBC News on Coronation Day – a testament to the captivating allure she possesses. We’re not sure she’s roadworthy enough to join us with Mari Deli on Chiswick High Road on October 22 – but stay tuned on our @FoodStMarket Instagram channel….

Image above: The famous Marina

Richard Johnson is the organiser of Food St

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Big Cheese Weekender comes to ‘Cheesewick’

Save the date: Sunday 15 October 2023, 9.30am – 3pm

Guest blog by Lucy Cufflin

The UK’s cheese accreditation body, The Academy of Cheese, hosts an annual National Cheese Weekend packed with on-line events. For the first time ever, it will be LIVE and it will be from Chiswick Cheese Market. ‘Cheesewick’ is well and truly on the map! The Academy will stream live from the market all day, there are extra activities happening and more stalls than ever before.

On top of our monthly range of over 180 different artisan cheeses we have Mellis mongers bringing cheeses from the Highlands and islands, Ty Caws bringing us some of the exciting artisan Welsh cheeses and Maltby and Greek bringing us some of the better and lesser-known cheese direct from Greece.

Alongside our accoutrements of chutneys, cheeseboards and charcuterie we have cheese/yoghurt making kits this month which you might well be tempted with as we have live free cheese making demonstrations from the Queen of Cheddar, Mary Quicke herself.

Free to join demonstrations from Perry Wakeman (Affineur of the year – twice) who will tell us how to mature and store cheese and meet the real-life makers of the award winning Pevensey Blue Cheese.

Families can join in the hunt the cow trail amongst the stalls and talking cow… we would like to introduce you to Chiswick’s newest resident – the Cheesewick Cow – she’s life-size, she’s beautiful and she’ll be making her first trip to market – come along, welcome her to her new home and why not have a cheesy selfie? #cheesewick

So less than two weeks to wait for all of this but action needed NOW if you want to join in one of our three ticketed events happening on the day at the marketplace. Places are limited so check your diary and book.

Images above: Patrick McGuigan; Tastes of the Unexpected

Cheese masterclasses available to book now

Tastes of the Unexpected’ – a cheese/drink pairing masterclass. one hour, six experts vying to persuade us that their secret pleasure combination should win the trophy for the best ‘Unusual Pairing 2023’. It’s a stellar line up from the cheese and drinks industry and we will taste along with the panel and the audience will vote to find the champion. 12 noon, George IV, £35.

Book tickets: bigcheeseweekender.com/events

Flavour charged cheeseboards with Patrick McGuigan’ – a true masterclass with one of the absolute masters of cheese tasting and appreciation.

Patrick has been writing about cheese for years, he is one of the very best with pairing flavours and this event has a fun twist – the Peter’s Yard spinning Wheel which will pick the combinations tasted and Patrick will lead us on a journey about understanding and building flavours on your cheeseboard. It will be fascinating and fun – don’t miss this! One hour, George IV, 2pm, £30.

Book tickets: bigcheeseweekender.com/events

‘Around Chiswick’ with local Blue badge guide, Guy Fairbank – Interesting for locals and visitors alike, it will be a great walk discovering the local area and all of Chiswick’s history including the history of the name (yes it really used to be Cheesewick!) and was RHS’s first every orchard! 11am-12.30pm starting on Chiswick High Road. £13.09.

Book tickets: www.eventbrite.com

We can’t wait to share this exciting day with you – get it in your diary, book ahead for an event and see you on 15th!

Images above: Cornish Kern; Roi; Quickes cheddar

Lucy Cufflin is one of the organisers of the Chiswick Cheese Market, which is run by Cookbook Kitchen CIC.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Junior doctors and consultants strike will see “extreme disruption” across NHS

Image above: Junior doctors  on the picket line at Charing Cross Hospital during previous strike action

NHS care facing Christmas Day levels of service disruption

The British Medical Association (BMA) and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) representing junior doctors and consultants respectively are striking this week, in industrial action which NHS management have said will cause “extreme disruption” across the NHS.

Trade unions representing some NHS staff are in dispute with the Government over the 2022/23 pay award, as well as wider conditions within the NHS as a whole. A number of the unions have balloted their NHS members to take part in industrial action. As a result, members of the following unions are striking on the dates listed below:

  • 2 October – from 7.00am, BMA and BDA Consultants, HSCA and BMA junior doctors, and BDA dental trainees out on strike
  • 3 October – all day, BMA and BDA Consultants, HSCA and BMA junior doctors, and BDA dental trainees on strike. Society of Radiographers (SoR)* out on strike from 8.00am
  • 4 October – all day, BMA and BDA Consultants, HSCA and BMA junior doctors, and BDA dental trainees. SoR members on strike until 0800
  • 5 October – until 7.00am, BMA and BDA Consultants, HSCA and BMA junior doctors, and BDA dental trainees on strike

Local NHS Trusts involved in the industrial action include Imperial College Healthcare Trust, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (which includes West Middlesex hospital)  and South West London and St George’s Mental Health.

People needing emergency care are being advised to use A&E units as normal or call 999.

For other health concerns, 111 or GP services should be used – although they could be disrupted, as some junior doctors work as GP trainees. Patients should have been told about any postponements of non-emergency services in advance.

The number of inpatient and outpatient appointments and operations cancelled due to strikes across England has passed  1 million following the first co-ordinated strike by junior doctors and consultants in history earlier this month.

Almost 15,000 appointments and operations were cancelled by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust because of NHS strike action over the last year, according to NHS England figures. Tens of thousands of appointments and operations were cancelled by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

On Tuesday the disruption will be added to by a walkout by radiographers, which carry out scans, at around a quarter of NHS trusts.

NHS England medical director Prof Sir Stephen Powis said: “NHS services have had very little time to recover from the previous action and now face three consecutive days which will prove extremely challenging, with almost all routine care brought to a standstill.”

Tube and train strikes set to cause disruption

Image above: Library picture of a tube station shuttered during a previous Tube strike

Long-running dispute continues to disrupt services into first week of October

Thousands of London Underground workers and train drivers are going on strike during October – with an overtime ban beginning from Monday 2 October and mass disruption expected from Wednesday 4 October.

RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport union) and ASLEF (The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen) members are striking in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions. There are strikes affect both Tube and National Rail services.

ASLEF represents drivers, whereas the RMT represents workers from many different sectors of the rail industry – including station staff and guards.

Tube services will be “severely affected” or not run at all on Wednesday 4 October and Friday 6 October. There will also be no night tube on Friday 6 October.

There will be disruption before 8am the day after strikes on Thursday 5 October and Saturday 7 October.

The Elizabeth Line and London Overground services are not affected.

Industrial action on London Underground

  • Monday 2 October: Train driver overtime ban likely to reduce services
  • Tuesday 3 October: Train driver overtime ban likely to reduce services
  • Wednesday 4 October: Train driver strike and overtime ban to cancel or reduce services. London Underground strike affecting whole network
  • Thursday 5 October: Knock-on effect of strikes to affect early morning services. Train driver overtime ban likely to reduce services
  • Friday 6 October: London Underground strike affecting whole network. Train driver overtime ban likely to reduce services
  • Saturday 7 October: Knock-on effect of strikes to affect early morning services

Chiswick House Dog Show 2023 – in pictures

Image above: ‘Prettiest bitch’ at Chiswick House Dog Show 2023

Chiswick House Dog Show 2023

Guest blog by Jan Preece

The 19th annual Chiswick House Dog Show took place on Sunday 24 September – and the cricket pitch at Chiswick House was awash with dogs and their owners!

This community event, organised by a committee of 12 dog-loving local volunteers, has gained a huge following over the years, and people (and their dogs) travel miles to visit the show.

There are 18 classes, held in three rings, which range from ‘Naughtiest Dog’ to ‘Best Looking Bitch,’ and from ‘My Dog’s got Talent’ to ‘Waggiest Tail’.  Surrounding the rings are 70 different stalls – commercial, charity and catering – and (at great public demand) the ever-popular Doggy Dash, manned by staff and volunteers from the Dogs Trust Re-Homing and Adoption Centre at Harefield.

Each class in the show is sponsored – mostly by ‘locals” (ArtsEd, Chiswick Art School, Chiswick Salon, Falcons Pre-Prep Chiswick, Gavin Jones, Insider Dealings, Sipsmith, Strand-on-the-Green Dental Practice, Sam’s Riverside), with the rest being sponsored by some of the regular stall-holders. This year, the ‘Green Room’ was sponsored by Sam’s Riverside and the programme sponsor was The London Stove Company.

Winners of each class were given a prize, Dog Town grooming voucher and a large pink 1st rosette, whilst the runners-up receive a large blue rosette. An innovation this year was the award of six “Highly Commended” rosettes – which meant that more owners left the ring happy!

The theme of this year’s show was the 60th anniversary of Dogtor Who – and a selection of some of the celebrity judges had at some time performed in the well-known TV series.  One in particular – Bonnie Langford – is also a star of the forthcoming 2024 Dr Who – and she was joined by actors, Kevin McNally, Adam James, Sara Stewart and long-time Ealing resident, John Leeson (the original voice of K9!).

Video of the dog show 2023 on Youtube (produced, filmed and edited by Julie Ritson):

Celebrity judges return to judge the show

All the other celebrity judges, including our ‘regulars’ Neil Dudgeon (Midsomer Murders) and Harriet Thorpe (new landlady of the East-Enders’ Queen Vic), were joined this year by actors, Leslie Nicol, Hannah Waddingham, Andy Nyman, Alistair Petrie, and Maria Kesselman, as well as Heart Radio presenter Pandora Christie, and restaurateur Oliver Peyton, all of whom entered into the spirit of the show.

The ever-popular, Michael Ball judged (with Bonnie) ‘My Dog’s Got Talent’ and then helped the main sponsors of the show (from John D Wood, Dog Town and Wolfe Vets) to judge ‘Best in Show 2023,’ which was won by Ameerah, owned by Sonja Humphries.

The event itself has been sponsored for the last eight years by John D Wood, and the three rings are now regularly sponsored by Butternut Box, Dog Town and Wolfe Vets, all of whom have stalls at the show, and enjoy being able to meet up with their clients in a more relaxed and enjoyable way.

A new innovation this year was a “Dog’Bola” (sponsored by Barlow & Co) – with an amazing array of prizes that were donated by stallholders and local businesses. It was hugely successful – and a very big THANK YOU to all those who gave us the prizes, and also to St Michael’s and All Angels who loaned us their drum!

A large number (185!) of volunteers help at the show: some of these do a couple of hours, others spend the whole day.  They come in all shapes, sizes and ages – and all volunteer for different jobs – ‘setting up’ the show early in the day, traffic management, helping on Registration, working on the bar, pho’dog’raphy in the rings, marshalling the judges, being a steward in a ring, litter-picking, or helping to dismantle and pack away all the Dog Show gazebos and equipment.

The show is organised by a committee of 12 dog-loving locals volunteers, all of whom regularly walk their dogs in the beautiful and varied grounds of Chiswick House, and funds raised from the Dog Show go towards the maintenance and upkeep of these grounds – as well as to other ‘dog-related’ projects within the grounds.

Over the years they have provided funds for doggy bag dispensers, a golf-buggy for the ranger, railings around the cricket pavilion as well as the “humans only” area, hoggin paths, upkeep and refurbishment of the dog poo bins, as well as general maintenance of the shrubs and trees to keep the environment safe for the people who walk their dogs there.

Gallery of photos

Images above: Ring 2, a  happy winner of ‘Prettiest Bitch, 3-4 years’; photos Shelley Waldman – Instagram @shuttershelly

Images above: Owner of best male puppy (Waffles), a highly commended competitor

Images above: Harriet Thorpe judging ‘Fancy dress for adults + dog’ with John Leeson – the original K9, Local residents Kevin McNally and Neil Dudgeon Trying to make a decision on who wins ‘Handsmest dog 3-4 years’!

Images above: Hannah Waddingham and Alastair Petrie judging ‘Best Youngster Bitch 1-2 years’, Leslie Nichol and fellow judges deciding who wins ‘Best Male Puppy’ – photo John Fegan – Instagram @jsfega

Images above: Michael Ball with Bonnie Langford judging ‘My Dogs Got Talent’, Michael Ball with winner of ‘Best in Show’ – Ameerah with her owner Sonja Humphries

Images above: Shows Wolfe vets and dog town, Dogbola, young volunteers

The 2023 winners in each category 

Class Dog Owner/Handler
Waggiest Tail Archie Alex
Prettiest Bitch, 5-8 years Olive Sophie
Handsomest Dog, 5-8 years Leo Maggie
Best Rescue Ameerah Sonja
Best Youngster Dog, 1-2 years Buddy Geoffrey
Best Youngster Bitch, 1-2 years Ella Loch
Best Young Handler, 7+ years Tamino Tallulah
Prettiest Bitch, 3-4 years Nala Valentine Una
Handsomest Dog, 3-4 years Oni Elena
Best Puppy under 12 months, bitch Dora Ian
Fancy Dress, adults + dog Harry Blue
Best Puppy under 12 months, dog Waffles Nicole
Best Veteran, 9+ Rocky Paulina
Best Groomed Arlo Christine
Fancy Dress, children + dog Skye Hugo
My Dogs got Talent Lola Alex
Naughtiest Dog Poppy Van
Best in Show Ameerah Sonja

Jan Preece is the organiser of the Chiswick House Dog Show.

chiswickhousedogshow.org.uk

Heart Radio presenter Jamie Theakston’s car stolen in Chiswick

Images above: The exterior and interior of Jamie’s car

Bright green convertible stolen from Barrowgate Road

Broadcaster and Chiswick resident Jamie Theakston is appealing for assistance in tracing his car which was stolen from outside his home on Sunday night (1 October).

The easily recognisable vehicle, a java green 1977 Triumph Stag with black convertible hood and green upholstery, was taken from Barrowgate Road at 11.00pm. The car’s registration UEK 82S.

The Heart Radio breakfast show presenter describes the car as his pride and joy, having owned it for over 20 years.

Jamie said he has taken the the car on a tour of Europe and a trip to the Scottish Highlands, as well as competing in it in classic car rallies.

In 2021, Theakston featured his Stag in a video for the Triumph Stag Owners Club. During the video he shares some of his favourite memories of driving it.

Jamie asked his followers on social media to contact him directly via social media.

Instagram: @jamie.theakston

Twitter/ X: @JamieTheakston

Brentford 0, Arsenal 1

Image above: Brentford v Arsenal, Wednesday 27 September 2023; still from YouTube video

EFL Cup: Third Round

Following a dismal performance against Everton, Brentford set out to re-establish themselves as a power in the Premier League. The fixture list dictated they would have to take on Arsenal in a third-round tie of the ELF Cup to achieve such lofty ambition, but hey, who said it would be easy? Not Arsenal, that’s certain.

Head coach Mikel Arteta fielded a starting line-up that lacked some of his squad’s more glittering talents but still presented a lesson in slick passing that made the home team – only a couple of changes from the Everton game – look like… well, look very much like the same bunch that had been unceremoniously thumped 3-1.

Aaron Ramsdale, recalled by Arteta after being usurped by David Raya, had little to do. Bryan Mbeumo, industrious as ever, tried his best but a midfield with Mathias Jensen relegated to the bench seemed stagnant. Yoane Wissa, awarded a golden chance when left unmarked by a mostly diligent defence, unleashed a shot so wayward it was surprising a search party was not despatched to retrieve it.

In the meantime, Arsenal had capitalised on their superiority after just eight minutes when Zanka, one of those selected to compensate for the worrying list of injured regulars, committed a sloppy back-pass that was seized on by an alert Reiss Nelson to beat Mark Flekken with ease.

The Bees looked forlorn as they trudged off but, as usual, Thomas Frank failed to make substitutes at the interval. Instead, he presumably delivering a scalding résumé of the woeful display so far and a demand that his side should pull up their socks.

This, or something similar, worked like a supercharged elixir that made the same players who had fumbled their way through the first forty-five minutes dominate the second, with Arteta fielding five subs in order to keep the inspired home team at bay (yes, Brentford also brought on five substitutes, but that’s hardly unusual for Frank).

Image above: Brentford v Arsenal, Wednesday 27 September 2023; still from YouTube video

Arsenal being what they are – Premier league royalty –the visitors faced drinking in the last chance saloon with great fortitude, breaking away whenever possible to test Flekken.

Such luminaries as Jorginho, Kai Havertz and Ben White must have welcomed Oleksandr Zinchenko and co. for assistance but, Brentford could be thankful for to Bukayo Saka and Declain Rice for their absence, more victims of an injury list.

Arsenal’s class act, short only in the lack of a legal striker, was unsuccessful largely due to the home goalkeeper producing his best performance so far at the Gtech Community Stadium and the do-or-die squad striving for an equaliser gave everything Frank could wish for.

Wissa struck a post with a shot that had Ramsdale’s finger-tips intervention enough to deny a goal and a similar, straightforward smack against the woodwork had the keeper beaten. Wissa, still far from his best, became a constant worry to the defence and Keane Lewis-Potter – sub for Frank Onyeka – lurked dangerously despite sometimes being out-muscled before he could realise his full potential.

Image above: Brentford v Arsenal, Wednesday 27 September 2023; still from YouTube video

All in all, Brentford was transformed into a unit emerging from a dark tunnel into the sun, even if there wasn’t much of that.

Ultimately, Arsenal hung on to their lead and now move on to the fourth round to take on West Ham at the London Stadium. The Bees, having subsequently travelled to Nottingham Forest for what fans hope was a limber up for Manchester United, drew 1-1 with ten men opposition after a shocking goalkeeping error by Flekken that will probably demand a postmortem.

All concerned will be hoping for a swift return for some of the injured, although Rico Henry may be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

The second half revival almost negated the sorry first, I told my mate Charlie.

‘What’s an elixir’, said Charlie.

Brentford: Flekken; Collins, Pinnock, (Zanka) Jorensen (substitute Ajer 82’); Roerslev (Ghoddos 63’), Onyeka (Lewis-Potter 79’), Nørgaard (Jensen 63’), Janelt, Hickey (Olakigbeat 79’); Mbeumo, Wissa.

Arsenal: Ramsdale; White (substitute Zinchenko 69’), Tomiyasu, Gabriel, Kiwior; Smith Rowe (Ødegaard 92’), Jorginho, Havertz; Sagoe (Gabriel Jesus 68’), Nketiah (Cédric Soares) 87’, Nelson (Elneny 82’).

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor for the Bees United website.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Details of public meeting with senior Met Police officer on crime in Chiswick announced

Image above: Chiswick Town Hall

Meeting set for Monday 16 October at 7pm (doors open 6.30pm)

Chiswick residents will have the chance to ask questions of the Metropolitan Police Borough Commander for West London, Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson, and local police officers at a public meeting on crime and policing in Chiswick, organised by Chiswick’s Conservative Councillors.

The meeting, on Monday 16 October at 7pm (doors open 6.30pm) at Chiswick Town Hall, has been organised specifically for residents and business ratepayers to find out about police operations in Chiswick. It is the fourth public meeting on crime and policing organised by the Conservative councillors, picking up on current local crime issues.

The Chiswick Calendar has received many emails recently on the subject of crime – on robberies in the street and drug dealing in plain sight as well as about burglaries and shop lifting. We highlighted the issue of shoplifting in August:

READ ALSO: Dramatic rise in shoplifting, theft and pickpocketing in Chiswick shops

READ ALSO: Daily Mail picks up on our shoplifting story and brings crime in Chiswick to national attention

The public meeting is likely to focus on shoplifting, drug dealing, car theft, theft from cars, bike theft, doorstep thefts, burglary and safety on the streets as well as police numbers and visibility.

It follows the meeting held on Friday 1 September for retailers concerned about shoplifting, where the officer in charge of the ‘Safer Neighbourhoods’ teams in Hounslow, acting Inspector Michael Binns and Sergeant Jim Cope, the officer in charge of the team in Chiswick, spoke to retailers and listened to the constant problems they are having both with the volume of shoplifting and the boldness of the thieves.

READ ALSO: Teenager threatened to cut off TV presenter Aled Jones’ arm with machete, court hears

READ ALSO: Does Chiswick need a Law Enforcement Team like Hammersmith?

Cllr Ranjit Gill told us all residents and business ratepayers were welcome to attend the next meeting. There is no need to book. Doors open at 6.30pm on 16 October at Chiswick Town Hall.

“Strong sense” that crime is “out of control”, says Cllr Gill

Cllr Ranjit Gill

Councillor Gill, the Conservative group’s spokesman on crime and policing, said:

“We know from our email inboxes, residents’ WhatsApp groups, and from bumping into residents when we are walking round our wards, that there is a very high level of concern in Chiswick about crime and a strong sense that it seems to be out of control locally. We also know that everyone wants to see more police on the streets and that they regret the closure of the police station.

“Our area police team, led by the West area Borough Commander Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson, will give us an update on the current state of policing, including numbers and roles within Chiswick and the borough, what the plans are for the future of neighbourhood policing in Chiswick, and answer your questions.”

In a presentation to Hounslow council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday, 26 September, chief superintendent Sean Wilson reported that all three Hounslow Chiswick’s ward teams are now up to full strength, with two PCs and one PCSO in each ward.

He is expected to outline, at the public meeting, the support ward police teams have from the wider police force in the borough and his plans for policing in Chiswick and the borough.

The officer in charge of the ‘Safer Neighbourhoods’ teams in Hounslow, acting Inspector Michael Binns, told The Chiswick Calendar last month the Metropolitan Police was struggling to recruit staff and that officers who were supposed to be working on neighbourhood policing had been pulled off that duty so they could meet the need for emergency responses.

READ ALSO: Police ‘Safer Neighbourhood’ team in Hounslow severely understaffed

Cllr Gill hopes residents will be free to come to the meeting and will raise whatever issues concern them, just as they did at the previous public meetings organised by Chiswick’s Conservative councillors.

Olive Tennant wins Chiswick In Film Festival Young Film maker award

A chip off the old block?

Olive Tennant won the Chiswick In Film Festival Young Film Makers award for her short film 3 hours and 36 minutes, about how a childhood fantasy can allow a person to revisit a happy time when you want to and when you feel you need to.

The brief was to make a film about anything you liked, as long as a part of it was set in Chiswick. Olive, who is 12, shot the film in her home, with her father, the actor David Tennant, passing briefly through shot as an extra.

The films were judged by fellow Chiswick actor Colin Firth, and theatre director Michael Attenborough, who was there to present the prizes. Colin and Michael were given five entries to watch and Colin said in a pre-recorded message that he found it really hard to choose between them. He sent his apology that he was unable to be there in person, as he was travelling.

Video: Colin Firth 

David Tennant was there to see his daughter receive the prize for her film. Andrea Carnevali, a Bafta winning editor and one of the organisers of the Chiswick In Film festival said her film showed:

“a clear understanding of the film-making techniques here: point of view shots, slow motion, effects (from black and white to colour on the opening of the door) and even some “CGI” (the door in the park). The script has a lot of attitude.”

Runners up in joint second place were Gabriella Boyle, with her film Zest and Melody Moppett, with her film Storage Full.

In third place was Harvey Dobel with his film I got a date.

Image above: Andrea Carnevali with Harvey Dobel 

All the winners received goody bags from Chiswick Cinema.

Read more about Chiswick In Film festival 2023 here: Chiswick In Film festival 2023

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Personal training sessions at Active360’s new Riverside Gym

Image above: The Riverside Gym inside Active360 under the arches of Kew Bridge

New gym catered to those interested in watersports

Active 360, Chiswick’s paddleboarding outfit, have opened a new gym in at their place under the arches of Kew Bridge. Known as the Riverside Gym, the space now open for fitness sessions, yoga & pilates and available to rent for personal training and classes.

Managed by Dan and Paul Hyman, Active360 run open-group or private lessons for anyone who would like to learn to stand-up paddleboarding for the first time, or to refresh skills on a new part of the River Thames or London canals, offering discounts for returning paddlers.

The new gym space is 7.5m x 5m with new rubber matted gym floor, is also heated and well ventilated with full shower and changing facilities, as well as a defibrillator and functional kitchen with a microwave, kettle and toaster.

The new gym’s equipment includes:

  • Freeweights
  • Squat/power rack
  • Rowing, Ski and paddle/swim ergos
  • Alternative functional equipment

Images above: The Chiswick Calendar’s reporter Matt Smith paddleboarding on the River Thames near Grove Park

Class-focused sessions for beginners or returning paddleboarders and river-users

With over 22 years experience and 17 years watersports coaching on the Tidal Thames, Dan is one of Active360’s most well-trained instructors. He took me out paddleboarding for the first time on the Thames at Stand-on-the-Green. We reached the Bull’s Head against the tide then came back, and I managed not to fall in. Not to toot my own horn, but I think I did quite well – of course thanks to Dan’s skilful guidance.

Afterwards, we had a brief tour of the gym, and Dan told me:

“We started this as a paddlesports gym, so our main target is getting people off the water into the gym. Whether that’s people who don’t want to paddleboard through winter or that’s people who want to keep their fitness up outside of being on the river.

“Because for one, paddleboarding can be expensive if you don’t have your own equipment. It costs a lot for us to run watersports sessions to get highly qualified coaches on the water, equipment, insurances, licensing.

“The gym is a lower cost to run, you can have a lower monthly fee and classes are a lot cheaper. for example a paddleboarding class can be £65 for the first time, £45 for a return which adds up to quite a lot of money if you’re coming three to four times per week whereas in the gym it could be £7 for a session and there’s huge price gap.

“It will be focused on classes, we’re looking at classes and one to one personal training. For the club we have access, so a paddle fitness session would be half gym half on water. There won’t be open access for now, it’s a bit of a difficult one with the size of the gym having a membership system but it’s something we’d like to do for members.”

The booking system is flexible and some sessions start for as little as £12 per hour. You can book classes by clicking here.

Image above: Dan Hyman outside Active360 under the arches at Kew Bridge, Dan Hyman using the paddleboard machine inside Active360’s Riverside Gym

Date to be set for launch event

Dan added there will be a launch event in the coming weeks, where there will be a day of open classes after the first few sessions though the date for this is yet to be announced.

Active360 run paddle fitness classes throughout the year for more confident paddlers, focusing on working against the tide around the local islands – which they describe as “our very own treadmill on water”. Once you’re in the water, especially if you’re in a wetsuit like I was, you warm up very quickly.

If the weather really is not suitable groups will spend more time in the gym or switch to an indoor paddle fitness session. If you are a looking to improve your fitness then stand-up paddleboarding is a great full body workout.

During your sessions, expect to be looking at ways to improve technique and increase muscular and cardiovascular endurance – as well as your overall fitness and strength.

Dan and the team said they were looking forward to welcoming new and returning watersports enthusiasts to boost their fitness, and personally I couldn’t recommend it enough if you’re the active type or just want to try something new.

Active360 is 150 metres from Kew Bridge mainline station with direct line to London Waterloo. Underground stations are a short walk away and there is secure bike parking on site. Pay and display car parking free 12.00-6.00pm.

Club Card Offer

Club Card holders can enjoy 10% off all weekday lessons and classes, both scheduled and private lessons. See Active 360’s rates and schedules on their website. Use the code CHISWICK10 when booking, or ring them with any queries.

Public meeting arranged to discuss merger of three Chiswick GP practices

Image above: Grove Park GP surgery

Merger delayed because of lack of consultation

A public meeting has been arranged to discuss the merger of three of Chiswick’s GP practices, following complaints from patients of the Grove Park Surgery that there had been insufficient consultation.

The merger of Wellesley Road, Grove Park, and Chiswick Family Doctors surgeries was expected to be rubber stamped at a meeting last week of the North West London ICS – ‘Integrated Community Care System’, which oversees GPs’ contracts, but Chair of the Grove Park Surgery Patients Group James Armitage told them patients had not had sufficient opportunity to examine or understand what the merger would mean.

The North West London ICS decided to delay the merger so that there could be a proper consultation.

READ ALSO: Merger of three of Chiswick’s GP practices delayed as patients seek “proper consultation”

The three surgeries want to combine their resources under the banner of the newly formed ‘Chiswick Medical Practice’. The idea is to streamline and optimise services, promising patients access to a broader range of clinicians, nursing staff, and healthcare assistants.

They hope to be able to offer increased appointment availability, more proactive care, reduced call queues, and improved handling of requests. Patients would still have the option to be seen by their regular GPs and clinical staff. A single unified website is planned, to provide patients with comprehensive information about Chiswick Medical Practice and its range of services.

Meeting Wednesday 4 October at 6.30pm at Chiswick Methodist Church

Chair of the Grove Park Surgery Patients Group James Armitage

The event on Wednesday will be for one hour and there will be a short section for Q and A at the end, said James Armitage.

‘If you are unable to attend face to face, and space may be limited, but wish to still join the event, the surgery has provided the following link so people can join online using Microsoft Teams via  the link below:

Click here to join the meeting: Teams 
Meeting ID: 357 895 048 01
Passcode: eQiDxs

The meeting is on Wednesday 4 October at 6.30pm at Chiswick Methodist Church, Sutton Court Road, Chiswick W4 4NL.

‘They say further meeting will be held’, said James, ‘but we do not know the revised date (from last Monday) when the NHS Borough Executive Group will meet to approve the merger.’