Local bus routes likely to be affected by bus controllers’ strike

Image above: Abellio buses

Routes servicing Chiswick, Brentford, Putney and Hammersmith will be affected 

Bus routes in west London are poised for disruption as 40 members of the Unite union, employed by Abellio, plan to stage industrial action over a pay dispute. Bus controllers, responsible for managing routes and ensuring safety, will walk out on six separate days.

Unite members are unhappy with Abellio’s management’s offer of a five per cent pay increase for 2023, a real-terms cut for employees earning around £10,000 less annually compared with those in similar roles at other bus companies.

Controllers, managers, and supervisors at Battersea and Twickenham bus garages will stage walkouts on successive Fridays: 19 and 26 January, and 2, 9, 16, and 23 February.

Routes serving Chiswick, Brentford, Putney, and Hammersmith, including 24, 27, 111, 156, 159, 267, 285, 322, 344, 345, 415, 490, 969, H20, H25, H26, R68, R70, are anticipated to face disruption. While services will continue, the union expects significant delays and deviations from the scheduled timetable.

Image above: Sharon Graham General Secretary of Unite

Members won’t stand for poor pay offers, says Unite

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:

“Abellio’s poor pay offer will bring chaos to London as our members take strike action to fight for better pay.

“Abellio has hundreds of millions of pounds of revenue from lucrative London bus contracts and yet it is trying to short-change some of its most vital staff. It needs to understand our members won’t stand for it.”

Unite regional officer Maxine Loza said:

“These workers provide an absolutely vital service to bus drivers and passengers. Yet Abellio is treating them with disdain with this pay offer.

“Abellio needs to come back to the table with an improved offer to avoid ruining the journeys of millions of Londoners. Abellio is to blame for this strike and they need to fix it.”

A spokesperson for Abellio said:

“We have negotiated with Unite since April 2023 regarding pay for its members in our Controller and Officials staff groups. It is disappointing to see Unite take strike action following an unconditional offer of a 5% increase in salary, back paid to January 2023.

“This offer is in line with increases made to other groups of staff within the business.We have mitigation plans in place for the strikes and are working with TfL to ensure Londoners can continue to travel during this unnecessary action.”

Rosie Trew, Head of Bus Service Delivery at TfL, said:

“We encourage Unite and Abellio to find a solution to this dispute. If this action goes ahead, bus services will still be available during strike days, but routes may be busier than normal. We’re encouraging everyone who might be affected to plan ahead, allow extra time for their journeys and check before they travel using our website or the TfL Go app.”

An attempt to settle the argument over parking in Chiswick

Image above: Empty parking spaces on Old Market Place car park (photograph taken in the summer, not during the period of the survey)

Survey carried out over 12 days in November shows you can park in the centre of Chiswick

Chiswick Flower Market is hoping to refurbish Old Market Place – the car park area outside the shops beside George IV pub. They point out the infrastructure is crumbling, the spaces too narrow for modern cars, some are unusable because of tree roots and the whole place looks tatty and unloved.

READ ALSO: Chiswick Flower Market launches plans for improving Old Market Place

READ ALSO: Chiswick Flower Market publishes results of its co-design initiative for Old Market Place

While few would disagree that it would be nice if the place had a refresh – new planting, new seating, spaces for bikes and electric vehicles to charge – whether people in Chsiwick will support the proposal is likely to depend on how many parking spaces are lost in the process.

In an attempt to have a conversation about it based on facts rather than indivuduals’ subjective experiences, they have carried out a parking survey, organised jointly by the flower market, Hounslow Council and developer Birchgrove, the company which has bought the old police station with a view to turning it into apartments for older people.

The results show there are regularly parking spaces which are empty in central Chiswick.

Above: Availability of car parking spaces during survey. At no point were there fewer than 48 spaces vacant within a 2-minute walk of Old Market Place/ At no point was Old Market Place completely full

At no point were there fewer than 48 spaces vacant withing a two minute walk of Old Market Place and at no point was Old Market Place completely full

Benchmark Data Collection, an independent company that has been undertaking traffic surveys for over thirty years across London and the southern counties of England, was commissioned to carry out the survey, which covered Old Market Place (from Linden Gardens to Devonshire Rd), the council-owned car park on Bond Street, and nearby roads in mid-Chiswick.

For 12 days between 30 October and 11 November (deliberately not half term or peak Christmas shopping periods when you would expect there to be fewer or more people trying to park than usual), their researchers conducted snapshot surveys at fifteen-minute or three-hourly intervals on weekdays and weekends between 7.00am-7.00pm.

The findings showed that out of the 186 spaces potentially available in central Chiswick, there were always more than 40 available within a short walk of Old Market Place.  The survey did not record any occasion when Old Market Place was completely full. It was close to full only 2% of the time.

The flower market hopes the survey will be a useful point of reference as the Council moves to conduct a consultation on the proposals for refurbishing the area.

Police offered a base in the old police station in Chiswick

Image above: Proposed new building Chiswick High Rd elevation looking east; Hunters architects

Police may be based inside new Birchgrove assisted living flats, if planning permission is granted

Birchgrove, the developer which bought the Chiswick Police Station site, has agreed to provide space for the police to use in the retirement flats they are planning to build there.

Since Chiswick Police Station was sold off, our local police have been based in Acton and have to catch the bus to Chiswick before they can even start their day’s work.

Chiswick councillor Ranjit Gill told The Chiswick Calendar he was talking to the Police Superintendent Anil Puri at the public meeting on policing he arranged last year. As a result of their conversation, he put them in touch with Honor Barratt, Chief Executive of Birchgrove.

“I knew from previous discussions that they were willing to provide accommodation for the police.”

The development, which has been the subject of a widespread consultation in Chiswick, comes before Hounslow’s Planning Committee for a decision, on Monday 5 February.

READ ALSO: Developers publish revised plans for Chiswick Police station site

Image above: Chiswick Police Station, as it was before the building was sold

What local police officers really need is a place in Chiswick where they can store their stuff

Honor has now had three meetings with Anil and Jim Cope, the sergeant responsible for the team which provides neighbourhood policing in Chiswick. While they have had plenty of offers from businesses for them to come and sit down and have a cup of tea, what they really need is somewhere to keep their stuff.

Honor Barratt

“Anil and Jim came to meet me and explained people in Chiswick were feeling underserved because of the lack of police presence” Honor told The Chiswick Calendar.

“What they need is a safe cycle store, secure lockers and somewhere secure to charge their body cams, ipads and walkie talkies or mobiles. Crucially they wanted somewhere private where they could shut the door and write a report.”

She is now talking to the Metropolitan Police property services department, who have not approved the arrangement yet. They have told her they will need a room to which only the police have fob access.

“We haven’t worked that out yet, but I don’t see it as an insurmountable problem. Jim Cope wanted to provide a better service by being based back in Chiswick again.

“My motivation is that I don’t want our old people to be shoved to the end of a cul de sac somewhere, I want them to be in the centre of things. I think this will be important to our oldies as a way they can contribute something to the ecosystem of Chiswick.”

READ ALSO: What policing in Chiswick is really like – Sergeant Jim Cope and PC Durr-e-Maknoon Tariq

Image above: PC Durr-e-Maknoon Tariq and Sergeant Jim Cope

No going back to a counter service

What neither she nor the police is considering is going back to the days when people who needed to see the police could just walk in and see them.

“Those days are long gone I think” she said. Victims of crime would still have to ring the police or contact them through their website, but it might be a place where local residents could meet local officers by appointment.

“Our proposal is that we provide all of this at no charge to the police (including unlimited coffee and cakes!) because it feels like this is the sort of neighbourhood activity that is needed to drive an increased feeling of security and community for all residents.”

Image above: Design presented in December 2022

Already a queue of elderly people from Chiswick who want to rent apartments

Birchgrove recently responded to an anonymous leaflet being circulated in the streets around the centre of the high road, suggesting if there are vulnerable elderly people concentrated in the centre of Chsiwick, residents will be more vulnerable to being targeted in the street by robbers.

“Clearly, having the police based in a building open 24 hours a day can only help make the three wards feel more secure.” said Ranjit. “I hope this gives Chiswick residents the assurance they need with greater police presence in Chiswick. I would like to thank Birchgrove and the support of the leader of the Council, Shantanu Rajawat, who is happy to support this plan.”

The proposed development at 205-211 Chiswick High Road is still awaiting planning permission. It comes up for discussion at Hounslow’s Planning Committee on Monday 5 February.

“We are very excited after waiting two years”, said Honor. “There has been a massive process of consultation, but the residents of Linden Gardens have been so helpful making suggestions and I think they take the view that if anyone’s going to develop the site, it might as well be us. It will be disruptive and there will be lots of dust while we’re building it, but we are in it for the long term. ”

There is already a queue of elderly people who live in Chiswick who have enquired about renting an apartment.

“They want to know when they can more in. So many people in Chiswick have made contact – old people who are sleeping in their sitting room because they are afraid to go up the stairs in their house.”

The details of the planning application can be found by searching using the reference (P/2023/1632) on Hounslow Council’s planning pages.

Images above: Mind volunteer Denise Hickey holds an empty clothes rack – a sign that something has been stolen; Hammersmith & Fulham’s Law Enforcement Team

A year of calls for stronger law enforcement in Chiswick

The initiative to bring police back to Chiswick has gained has momentum over the last year. The last officers left the old Chiswick Police Station in October 2021, a decision which was relentlessly criticised by Chiswick’s local councillors at the time, Conservative and Liberal Democrat alike.

Calls for some sort of boost to law enforcement in Chiswick were made following The Chiswick Calendar’s reporting on the significant rise in aggressive shoplifting and petty crime last summer. Chiswick councillors have also called for a dedicated Law Enforcement Team, like the one in Hammersmith & Fulham.

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

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

READ ALSO: Hounslow Council leader “open for discussion” about borough-wide enforcement team to tackle theft and antisocial behaviour

Images above: Audience and policing panel at October’s meeting on crime in Chiswick

Last year, at a meeting organised by Chiswick’s Conservative councillors in October, residents vented their anger at local police officers for their response to the rise in crime. The meeting culminated in the Metropolitan Police Borough Commander for West London, Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson, admitting crime has gone up since Chiswick Police Station has closed – but not admitting this was necessarily because it had closed.

A few weeks after the meeting, an amendment to Hounslow Council’s motion on tackling crime by Chiswick’s Conservative councillors, which would have led to the creation of a dedicated Law Enforcement Team similar to Hammersmith & Fulham, was voted down, including by Chiswick’s Labour counncillr, Cllr Amy Croft, killing the proposal.

READ ALSO: Chiswick residents vent their anger at police about rising tide of crime in Chiswick

READ ALSO: Hounslow Council rejects calls for a dedicated team to tackle crime in Chiswick

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

‘My life stopped’: The story of a Chiswick refugee evicted by the Home Office

Image above: Pari at Kew Gardens

Pari came over from Iraq hoping for a better life, only to be faced with being homeless

It was a usual Friday evening for Pari. A refugee, she had spent the day at college studying for her GCSEs. As a Kurd previously living In Iraq, she arrived in the UK two years ago looking for a better life for herself.

She dreams of practising law, as she did in her home country. Returning home to her government-provided accommodation in North Acton in November, she found she had received a letter from the Home Office.

The letter told her she had seven days left to find somewhere new to live.

Image above: Pari at Kew Gardens

Pari is not alone in her situation. She is one of thousands of refugees across London who are, or have been on the brink of homelessness this winter, due to policy changes from the Home Office in their attempt to clear their backlog of asylum decisions by the end of the year.

For those fortunate enough to get a positive decision on their refugee claim, like Pari, their celebrations were short-lived as they soon found themselves with nowhere to live and no time to find anywhere. A local authority can sometimes help, but not always.

“On Friday [11 November] the council told me ‘we’re not going to support you’,” she told the Chiswick Calendar.

Image above: Pari at Tower Bridge

Rescued by the generosity of local residents

“My heartbeat and my life stopped when I realised I was going to be evicted and homeless in seven days. I had nowhere to go.”

She faced an agonising wait, not knowing where whether she would have a roof over her head by the following week.

“I was sitting in college and my teacher told me Pari, why are you not focusing? I said ‘I can’t, my brain is stuck’,” she said.

Image above: Community centre West London Welcome with some of those who it helps; photograph by West London Welcome

Fortunately for her, she is in touch with  West London Welcome, the charity and community centre based in Hammersmith, and they have been able to help her. Their premises, where they provide hot food and advice for asylum seekers and refugees, had become her “second home” since arriving in the UK.

Since last August, the charity has been inundated with requests from refugees to help find local accommodation. Using their contacts, working with other charities such as Refugees at Home, they managed to find a guest bed in a local resident’s house for a bit.

READ ALSO: Refugees at Home

However, this was temporary, and once the hosting finished, Pari again faced the prospect of being homeless, as the charity struggled to find her a more permanent home. Some of her friends do not have the support of a charity.

“There is one girl who seemed like my age, and she stayed for six days on the street,” Pari told us.

Image Above: Library image, of homeless people’s tents pitched at Turnham Green

Change in Home Office eviction policy creates Catch 22 for refugees

When an individual is granted their refugee status, they can then apply for a biometric residency permit (BRP). A BRP holds refugee’s biographic information (name, date, and place of birth) and allows them to apply for universal credit and other benefits.

Prior to August 2023, refugees were given a 28-day notice period after they had been given their BRP to find other housing and monetary support. This gave them more of a buffer before they became self-sufficient, but now the Home Office counts the notice from the day of a refugee’s decision letter.

The Home Office is only required to give seven days’ notice before refugees are evicted from government provided accommodation, but obtaining the biometric residence permit can take over a month, so many refugees are finding themselves in a Catch-22; they cannot open a bank account or apply for work or benefits or find accommodation before they are evicted.

Alison Curtis from West London Welcome told The Chiswick Calendar that practically, this gives refugees nowhere near enough time to set themselves up with the essentials for living.

“Most people can only open a bank account after they get their refugee status, and even then, only when their biometric residence permit (BRP) arrives,” she told me.

“That can often not arrive until a week or two after you get your decision letter…it’s a really short time to do anything.”

She explained how much of a knock-on effect this has for refugees claiming universal credit or trying to find a place to stay.

“Feasibly, you can’t get a job or make a universal credit claim without a bank account, and you can’t open a bank account without your BRP.”

“If somebody doesn’t have any income or universal income, how are they going to pay any rent on a property? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Universal credit also typically takes up to five weeks to be processed. This means that even if a refugee put in a credit claim on the day of their decision letter, they would still go a week without any income.

It is possible to apply for a bank account while still seeking asylum, but you are required to provide identification. This is often seized by the Home Office in order to process asylum applications.

READ ALSO: Life as an asylum seeker in West London

Images Above: West London Welcome

“Biggest refugee crisis we’ve ever seen” – West London Welcome

Without West London Welcome, Pari would have struggled. “I didn’t know how to apply [for a bank account]” she admitted. The community centre also helped her set up universal credit before she was evicted from her asylum accommodation.

However, West London Welcome is struggling. When we spoke at the end of November they had already helped 45 refugees evicted from their government accommodation, but expected another 40 people each month.

“It really isn’t an exaggeration to say this is the biggest refugee crisis we’ve ever seen at West London Welcome,” Alison Curtis told me.

She criticised the way in which the Home Office introduced the policy:

“No one had any idea this was coming. It’s been very much a ‘react’ to try and come up with all of these plans to support people.”

The effect of this would be noticeable in Chiswick and the surrounding area, she said.

“A lot of local rough sleepers will be refugees and we ask readers to be compassionate towards those people,” said West London Welcome.

The centre also encouraged landlords to accept tenants and lodgers at benefits rates, to provide affordable accommodation to refugees. They also explained how much of a lifeline short-term hosting is for evicted refugees and encourage readers to sign up to hosting charity Refugees at Home.

“If you’ve got any spare space in your house at all, even if it for a very short amount of time, we’re desperate for hosts in west London.

“We would love to hear from anyone with a room or flat to rent.”

The charity is also raising money this winter to help support the refugees at the centre.

With their help and support, Pari has been one of the lucky ones. They managed to get her into a local housing scheme, so she has a roof over he head while she studies to replicate the qualifications she had in Iraq so she can follow her dream and one day be a lawyer in this country.

Look Behind You review – Theatre at the Tabard

Image above: Matt Tester, Olivia Jackson & Daniel Wain in Look Behind You at the Tabard; photograph Marc Brenner

Review by By Simon Thomsett

The Theatre at the Tabard has just opened with its new show, Look Behind You, and it is one ambitious undertaking.  A cast of 11 (backstage must be interesting) take us through a gruelling pantomime season at the fictional Britannia Theatre presenting a traditional, if slightly ropey version of Dick Whittington.

Interspersed with the onstage antics, backstage intrigue provides a plot or two and some insight into the unique “band of brothers” mentality that such a season inevitably generates.

The show originates from 1999 but has been extensively updated (by well over 60% according to a programme note), to include a number of modern references that have been woven into a rather uneven narrative which takes a while to get going; this is a show that could do with an edit.

Image above: Cait Hart Dyke & Mia Skytte; photograph Marc Brenner 

Opening in front of a lush cascading front curtain, we start in 1347; Fairy Bowbells is joined by the wicked Queen Rat, described as a middle-ages Suella Braverman, the first of the contemporary references.

As they exit, we go backstage into a wing where the others wait to go on or rush through having mis-timed their entrances, all overseen by a rather relaxed stage manager type who has seen it all and has troubles of her own.  A prominent Noises Off flyer attached to the noticeboard flags an obvious influence.

And so it goes on, moving back and forth between the two locations, throwing in the odd moment in a dressing room, leading to an ending which teeters on the edge of being a little too self-congratulatory as it romanticises the backstage life.

Image above: Annabel Miller & Olivia Jackson; photograph Marc Brenner

That said, the production values are high: the sets are clever, look suitably lived in, and make full use of the Tabard stage.  The design flourishes extend to some lavish costumes, particularly for Sam Nancarrow / Sarah the Cook, played with energetic vigour by the author, Daniel Wain, entirely in a succession of enjoyably ridiculous dame outfits that would not be out of place at one of the more spectacular regional pantos.

There are a number of pantomime actor stereotypes here: a TV weather girl, once “a nation’s sweetheart”, upset that her songs are frequently weather related; a monstrous reality TV star who was once nominated for “best thingy at the TV whatsit awards” only to be beaten by a Teletubby; a clueless pop star who breaks hearts backstage and bursts into song every now and again when in character, much to the imagined audience’s delight; an enjoyably annoying young buck, fresh out of drama school, knowing it all and just asking for some comeuppance; and former stars, now slogging it out twice daily in a leaky, fire trap of an ageing theatre.

Image above: Daniel Wain as Sam Nancarrow; photograph Marc Brenner 

Towering over them all is Sam Nancarrow.  Daniel Wain is loud, raucous and sniggeringly vulgar and he gives himself a lot of the best panto gags.  As the guiding light both onstage and in real life, his commitment to the cause is beyond question.  The rest of the cast acquit themselves well enough, but the choppy format works against convincing character development.

The long first half sets everyone up, but offers only snippets of actual story and when the various strands play out further in the second half, they can seem a little inconsequential.  Indeed, the second half has some quite drastic tonal changes and gets all serious for a while, taking in relationship breakdowns, terminal illness, financial crises and even the purpose and meaning of Theatre.

It’s at this point that the show takes to the soapbox and rails against the government, the Arts Council and the local authorities for their destructive indifference:

“Why do the Philistines keep cut, cut, cut, cutting?” laments Sam, it’s a good point, but it feels like it is from a different show.

In the end, Look Behind You is a mixed bag but has a lot of ambition, a number of funny gags, something to say about the state of the arts in our country where “theatre isn’t a right, just an option” (discuss) and quite a lot of actual packed-with-innuendo pantomime.  It’ll get you talking. Look Behind You runs to Saturday 3 February.

Simon Thomsett

Simon Thomsett

Simon Thomsett has worked in the professional theatre for a number of years. He started out as a stage manager and technician then became a venue director and producer, notably at the Hackney Empire, Fairfield Halls and most recently the New Victoria Theatre in Woking.

Since leaving full time work last year, he is now working as a consultant and on some small scale producing projects. He is a Chiswick resident and a passionate advocate for great theatre.

Former Chiswick Conservative Councillor and former Mayor of Hounslow Felicity Barwood obituary

The former Chiswick Conservative councillor and former Mayor of Hounslow Felicity Barwood has died.

The current Leader of the Opposition in Hounslow, Chiswick Conservative Councillor Peter Thompson, pays tribute to her.

I was so sorry to hear last week about Felicity’s death following a long battle with that most cruel disease of Alzheimer’s.  Felicity was a good friend and a magnificent councillor. I know firsthand the effort she put into representing her constituents and serving the local committee.

I will remember Felicity for her goodness, generosity, willingness to help others and the absolute support that she gave me when we worked together on Hounslow Council.

Felicity Barwood was a longstanding resident of Chiswick and went on to serve as a Conservative Councillor representing the Chiswick Riverside Ward between 2001, when she was first elected to the Council in a by-election after the death of Cllr Jo Langton, and 2018, when she retired due to ill health.

Felicity served as Mayor of the Borough between 2006 and 20077 – the first Conservative Mayor in Hounslow for 35 years.  She worked in this role to increase ‘Civic Pride in our Borough ‘, and to promote ‘Dignity for the Elderly ‘.

St Mary’s Convent and Nursing Home in Chiswick was one of the good causes that benefited from her fundraising during her mayoralty. She was also Chair of the Chiswick Area Forum in 2007/8, as well as sitting on several committees over her council career, including the Standards Committee, the Sustainable Development Committee, the Disability Community Forum, The Gunnersbury Park Board and the Tenants and Residents Joint Consultative Committee.

In addition, she was appointed to several outside bodies including Age Concern, Citizens Advice Bureau, Chiswick Parochial Charities, Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee and the Mortlake Crematorium Board.A life-long Conservative she served for many years as the Treasurer of the Brentford and Isleworth Conservative Association.

Felicity Barwood was a director of the London Mayors Association for some time, a director of the Isleworth and Hounslow Charity and the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust, as well as being Vice-Chair of the Chiswick Horticultural Society for several years from 2005. She  also had close connections to the Chiswick War Memorial Homes charity, run by the Oswald Stoll Foundation.

As a councillor, mayor, Association officer, and, in so many other ways, she served others well. My thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Serious accident on King Street in Hammersmith, as bus hits two people

Image above: Photograph taken at the scene of the accident in King St on Monday afternoon

“Sadly, it is what everyone has been predicting. This intersection is deadly”

An accident on King Street in Hammersmith was “an accident waiting to happen” according to local residents who witnessed it on Monday 22 January.

“There has been a terrible accident at the end of our road this afternoon” wrote one resident of Rivercourt Rd in a message to neighbours.

“The mother of the young man who I was teaching saw it happen after she dropped her son at my house. A bus on King’s street hit two people who seemed to be stepping off of the raised up bit that they just created.

“She saw heard a very loud thud and saw two people fly up into the air.  King’s Street and Rivercourt Road have been closed off since just after 3pm.”

Another resident of Rivercourt Rd told The Chiswick Calendar: “Sadly, it is what everyone has been predicting. This intersection is deadly.”

Residents of Rivercourt Rd have written to Hammersmith & Fulham repeatedly, over a period of months, about the danger posed to pedestrians and cyclists at the junction of their road with King Street.

“Sat nav navigation systems direct drivers going into central London to drive down our small residential street, so it can back up to roundabout, which means the drivers get angry and sound their horns putting pressure on the driver at the front of a lengthy queue, which means they pull out too early when cyclists and pedestrians are crossing” on told The Chiswick Calendar.

The resident, who preferred not to be named, also said that coaches parked in parking bays not wide enough to accommodate them, compounding the problem at the junction.

“The cycle land has certainly not helped, but I doubt they will do anything about it now. We have pointed this out several times and there have been several accidents” she told us.

“I believe they should close our road so traffic keeps on the main road to go to the roundabout”.

A London Ambulance Service spokesperson told The Chiswick Calendar:

“We were called at 3.17pm on Monday 22 January to reports of a road traffic collision on King Street, W6.

“We sent resources to the scene, including ambulance crews, a medic in a fast response car and a clinical team manager. Our first medic arrived at the scene in two minutes.

“We treated two patients at the scene before taking them to hospital.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

A very successful ‘Sparkling Vintage Affair’ indeed

Image above: Adele Parks and Gaby Roslin with Jacks Thomas; photograph Jim Cox

Cream teas and couture

“I was worried we weren’t going to get enough clothes, but we were inundated. It took six days to sort them all out.”

Paula Nelson, co-organiser of the fashion show at St Michael & All Angels Church on Saturday (20 January), doesn’t seem like the type to spend her days sorting second hand clothes. A very elegant, retired corporate barrister, she found herself elbow deep in ‘pre-loved’, or vintage clothing when she agreed to organise the event with Jacks Thomas in aid of the church’s three charities.

It was a huge success. If you’re thinking ‘jumble sale’, think again. These were not piles of second hand clothes on tables for the public to rummage though. These were designer labels – Christian Dior, Hardy Amies, Bruce Oldfield, a Vanessa Bruno navy coat, an Ashish beaded skirt and a cream silk blouse from Alexandra Shulman’s wardrobe, and Biba originals, tastefully arranged on clothing rails in the aisles.

Image above: The models showing off the designer clothes; L to R: Kay Porter, Helen Dods, Fr Brandon, Sarah Nelson and Lizzie Ellen.

The trick is not to put out too many, maintaining the air of exclusivity. There was no undignified squabbling, as you might find at the more common variety of clothes sale hitherto mentioned, but let’s just say that when the starting gun was fired to go and buy whatever it was they had their eye on, the ladies of St Michael & All Angels Church set off like greyhounds in the slips, and many went home with absolute bargains.

Image above: Like greyhounds in the slips

The nave of the Arts & Crafts church made a natural catwalk, with a little reorganisation of the pews around tables set for afternoon tea. Among the models was Father Brandon Fletcher-James, Curate of the parish, who after sashaying down the aisle was pleased to take his suit home with him.

TV presenter Gaby Roslin and novellist Adele Parks chatted briefly to Jacks about their books, Spread the Joy (Gaby’s) and Just Between Us (Adele’s) and pianists Tom Dupernex and Will Hopkins created a relaxed ambiance (with the same effect as supermarket music on happy shoppers, but so much classier), mellowed further by a nice bottle of Prosecco.

A masterclass (mistress class?) in how to arrange an enjoyable event and separate the participants from their cash in aid of charity.

Image above: Torin Douglas and Jane Davies enjoying the afternoon with Lesley Exley

Images above: Models on the catwalk; photographs Jix Cox

Images above: Photographs from the afternoon, including Gaby Roslin and Adele Parks; Jacks Thomas and Fr Brandon; proud raffle prize winner Carol Douglas, wearing her own wool crepe Jean Muir dress and church photographer Jim Cox, wearing a suit he had hand made in Liverpool in the 1960s (that he can still get into!) and a kipper tie. Chiswick Calendar editor Bridget Osborne sharing a laugh with Paula Nelson; photograph Jim Cox.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick man sentenced to four an a half years for sexual assault

Image above: Andrii Melnyk

Andrii Melnyk caught after ‘complex’ investigation

A man from Chiswick has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to the sexual assault of a teenage girl.

Andrii Melnyk, 30, of Harvard Road, was sentenced at Reading Crown Court on Wednesday 17 January for sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault by touching. He will also be on the sexual offenders register for life.

The assault took place on 2 April 2023 at around 6.00am on Short Lane in Staines.

Melnyk followed the victim after they got off the same bus then grabbed her by the arm while he attempted to pull her trousers down. The victim then fell over and Melynk fell on top of her, after which he sexually assaulted her.

The victim, who was only 18-years-old at the time, managed to fight him off and shout for help, before seeking assistance from a nearby taxi driver who rang the police. Melynk then fled the scene.

Melynk was identified as the perpetrator after officers trawled through CCTV on the bus and matched him to the suspect description. By cross-referencing the oyster card used on the bus, Melynk was successfully identified as the user.

When they searched his home address, officers found clothing matching the ones in the CCTV, as well as a pair of distinctive jeans with mud stains on the knees. He was subsequently picked out as the perpetrator in an ID parade by the victim, before being charged with the offences and remanded in custody.

Investigating Officer DC Katherine Peters, said:

“This was a complex investigation that involved many different lines of enquiries including forensics, intel, witness testimonies and CCTV.

“The survivor was extremely brave and displayed enormous resilience throughout the investigation and court proceedings. Thanks to her, a dangerous man is now off the streets and in prison where he belongs.

“If you have been the victim of sexual assault, we would urge you to report it to us; we will listen to you and will do everything we can to find and bring the perpetrator to justice.”

Ballet4Life celebrates twenty years since being founded in Chiswick

Image above: Ballet4Life

Chiswick dance hub celebrates twentieth anniversary

It is a momentous month this January for Ballet 4 Life, who are celebrating twenty years since they were formed. They were initially giving classes out of Rambert Dance Company, at the site where Chiswick Cinema is now.

Ballet4Life was a winner at our recent CRAP awards evening (Chsiwick Residents’ Active participation). This year we focused on Chiswick’s cultural life. The full list of winners can be found here.

Donna Schoenherr, the founder of Ballet4Life told the Chiswick Calendar:

“I’m very grateful and happy to say we’re still going strong. We are in a really good place and it’s funny to say we’ve been around for twenty years.”

Donna came to Chiswick having been a professional ballet dancer in New York. She has toured the world, working with companies such as the Cleveland Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Michael Mao Dance Co.

 

Image above: Donna Schoenherr

Supporting people with mobility issues

After setting up in Chiswick in 2004, the following year she launched Move into Wellbeing®, a dance programme for people living with Parkinson’s disease and other mobility restrictions. Move into Wellbeing® was inspired by Donna’s father who lived with Parkinson’s for thirty years and who she saw benefit hugely from music and movement based therapy.

She now employs fellow professionals to teach dance across a range of disciplines: pointe, masterclasses, contemporary dance, beginner courses, barre and the very popular 50+ ballet classes. Her classes have made a positive difference to many people living in Chiswick.

The company was set up when Donna’s son was just two years old. She says it’s interesting to look back on the time since:

“My son is now twenty two and I look at him and laugh, he was just a baby when I decided to go ahead with the idea of doing ballet sessions. I dropped him at nursery before the first session and couldn’t wait to get to the studio. It was very exciting.”

Since Covid, as well as offering in-person training, they now offer the classes live streamed as well, which Donna says is growing Ballet4Life even further:

“Being able to live stream the classes so people can follow along remotely has helped us as well as them because even if they cannot make it in person they can watch along.”

Donna says the people of Chiswick have always helped her create a good atmosphere:

“We have so many supporters in Chiswick and we love the people around us. They have helped us so much and even those who have relocated still come to us which is fantastic.”

Images above: Ballet4Life

The future of Ballet4Life

When we asked Donna about the future of Ballet4Life she simply said:

“We will continue to grow and nothing major will change. We are more than happy at the moment with over 200 users a week either in our classes or following online. We are also proud to announce an upcoming partnership with Chiswick School.”

The partnership with Chiswick School will see the organisation offer classes to students as a extra-curricular activity as well as helping deliver classes as part of the new GCSE Dance course coming to the school.

Ballet4Life is part of our Clubcard scheme. To view our offer click here.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Ealing Liberal Democrats say Council failing to meet residents expectations

Image above: Ealing Council Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrats say Ealing’s Labour council is failing to meet their own targets

The Ealing Liberal Democrats have launched an attack on Ealing Council, accusing them of “failing to meet residents expectations on answering phones and keeping streets clean.”

Ealing Council is made up of seventy councillors. Labour controls the council and has 59 councillors, the Lib Dems have six and the Conservatives have five.

The Lib Dems say: “This Labour administration is breaking its promises to residents who elected them. Labour are not responsive to the needs or requests from its residents. It has failed to meet its own targets for answering 80% of phone calls in five minutes for the second quarter of 2023/24 year.

“This echoes the missed targets for resident satisfaction with council contacts set at 72% against 80% target. These performance measures have been missed for half of this year’s performance and goes to underline the lack of responsiveness and agility of Ealing Labour to address the needs of those asking for advice or help in these challenging times.”

Lib Dems say council lacks leadership

“In governance terms these failures point to a significant lack of leadership and a weak delivery ability to turn around failing under performance. These consistent failures across two quarters (the first half of this year 2023/24) are often called “double reds.”

“Other “double reds” include a failure to improve recycling rates of households which have consistently remained at about 50% for the past five years. Fly tipping is another missed target at 79% in Q2 set against a target of 95%. These “double reds” show persistent failure by Ealing Labour in the first half of this year – what hope is there for improvement in the next six months?”

“Council is failing”

Councillor Gary Malcolm, Leader of the Opposition and Councill0r for Southfield ward in Chiswick, says:

“Liberal Democrats are challenging Ealing Labour to outline clear action plans to address residents’ concerns including picking up the phone to residents and addressing the large amount of fly-tipping and encouraging households to recycle more of their waste. Liberal Democrats want to see a clean and safe Ealing where the Council listens. Ealing Labour are failing on all those fronts.”

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Fresh round of train strikes announced by Aslef union

Image above: A South Western Railway train at Chiswick Station

South Western Railway trains will not run on Tuesday 30 January 

A fresh series of strikes has been announced in a development that further escalates the long-standing pay dispute between the train drivers’ union Aslef and 16 UK train companies. The industrial action is set to take place from Tuesday 30 January to Monday 5 February, with different operators facing disruptions each day.

As part of the protest, train drivers belonging to Aslef will also refuse to work overtime from Monday 29 January until Tuesday 6 February. If the strikes go ahead, this will be the third year in a row there has been industrial action.

The schedule of strikes outlines the affected train companies on each designated day.

  • Tuesday 30 January: Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Thameslink, South Western Railway, and SWR Island Line
  • Wednesday 31 January: Northern Trains, Transpennine Express
  • Friday 2 February: Greater Anglia, C2C, LNER
  • Saturday 3 February: West Midlands Trains, Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway
  • Monday 5 February: Great Western, CrossCountry, Chiltern

Ooperators not involved in the industrial action, such as ScotRail and Transport for Wales, are expected to run normal services during the specified strike days.

Historically, many of the affected train companies faced significant disruptions during previous strikes, with some unable to operate any trains. A few have managed to run a limited timetable by employing managers to drive trains.

There will be no strike action on Thursday 1 February or Sunday 4 February, providing a brief respite in the series of planned disruptions.

Images above: Cancelled train notices at Chiswick Station, Aslef General Secretary Mick Whelan

Many Aslef members have not had a pay increase for half a decade, says Aslef union 

The Aslef general secretary, Mick Whelan, said:

“We have given the government every opportunity to come to the table but it has now been a year since we had any contact from the Department for Transport [DfT]. It’s clear they do not want to resolve this dispute.

“Many of our members have now not had a single penny increase to their pay in half a decade, during which inflation soared and with it the cost of living. Train drivers didn’t even ask for an increase during the Covid-19 pandemic when they worked throughout as key workers, risking their lives to allow NHS and other workers to travel.”

“Despite the railway’s huge financial challenge, drivers have been made an offer which would take base salaries to nearly £65,000 for a four-day week without overtime – that is well above the national average and significantly more than many of our passengers that have no option to work from home are paid.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said it was “very disappointing” and that Aslef was the only rail union “continuing to strike while refusing to put a fair and reasonable offer to its members”. They added:

“The Aslef leadership should do the right thing and let their members decide their own future, instead of deciding it for them.”

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said:

“Nobody wins when strikes impact lives and livelihoods, and they’re particularly difficult to justify at a time when taxpayers are continuing to contribute an extra £54m a week to keep services running post-Covid.

Chiswick Cheese Market January 2024

The Alpine Edition

“Yodel – hey, yodel – hey, yodel- hey he hoo”

Guest blog by Lucy Cufflin 

Dig deep and find the inner Julie Andrews in you, sing out loud and join is on the Sunday 21 January for our first market of 2024, which has an Alpine accent. I work in the ski industry myself but am firmly desk bound just now, so I’m dreaming of those snowy ski slopes as I write. I can’t think of a better way to harness that Alpine feeling than with some hot cheese après-ski style.

HQ has some exciting Alpine cheeses free to taste and compare – The French Comte is bringing their own special fondue mix of cheeses as well as their fabulous Reblochon and array of cheese for raclette, and if you are looking for a fantastic British cheese to enjoy in that adorable, comforting melted state then look no further than Ogleshield brought to us by James at No.2 Pound Street (I always include this in my cheese selection these days when we have a raclette at home).

Buttercup, our cow, will be giving it her Alpine best with a great photo-op Alpine back drop (c’mon you know you need a cheesy selfie)

Is all this talk of hot cheese making you hungry? The Roebuck will back with their ooey-gooey Raclette, and they are also bringing Tartiflette and mulled wine.

Talking melted cheese, Roberto from @thefrenchcomte has a favourite fondue recipe from the Jura using three ages of Comté cheese with bubbly Crémant de Jura rather than still wine. (Mmm got to try that?) but our recipe of the month is an intriguing version of fondue from our friends @boroughKitchen which adds a good pinch of nutmeg, cornflour and interestingly suggests Chablis for the wine hit…

I’m definitely up for this one. cheese-chocolate-beyond-four-fondues

Image courtesy of www.boroughkitchen.com

Cheese Fondue

Ingredients

1 clove garlic, peeled & halved
300ml sauvignon blanc (or Chablis)
1 tbsp corn flour
320g grated Emmenthal (or Jarlsberg)
500g grated Gruyère (or Comté)
Nutmeg, to taste.

To serve: day-old bread, cubed; cornichons & other pickles; charcuterie
Optional additions: Reblochon; Vacherin Fribourgeois; blue cheese

Method

  • Rub the garlic clove halves around the interior on the fondue pot, then discard garlic. Add wine and corn flour to the fondue pot and whisk together, then place on the hob and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the grated Emmental & whisk until cheese has melted. Follow with the Gruyère, whisking until melted. If using optional cheese(s), add and whisk until melted. Taste and season with nutmeg. (If your fondue is not compatible with your hob, cook the wine, corn flour, cheeses and spices in a saucepan and add to the fondue pot once the mixture is to your taste.)
  • Light the flame in the fondue base. Transfer fondue pot from hob to base and serve, dipping bread into cheese fondue with skewers. Enjoy with cornichons, other pickles, and charcuterie on the side.

Syrian halloumi from Yorkshire

There will be, as ever, well over 180 different Artisan cheeses on offer at the market and we are thrilled that Yorkshire Dama are back with us in 2024  – remember them from the last market? You may have been greeted in December by their friendly trademark  – “hello you – hellou-me”?

I wanted to tell you their remarkable story – Razan Alsous came to UK from Syria in 2012 having lost everything in the conflict and settled into a new life in Yorkshire with her husband and family. Although a fully qualified pharmacist, she struggled to find work due to lack of experience working in the UK and was at a loss on how to secure a better future for her children in her new-found home.

She hit upon the idea of making her beloved ‘squeaky’ Syrian cheese using the fabulous local Yorkshire milk. With a strong background in microbiology and her husband an engineer who had supplied equipment to the pharmaceutical industries in Syria, they were well placed to understand the complexities of making cheese.

With a small grant they started their business. In 2014 were awarded a license to produce cheese and now they are sharing their wonderful Halloumi style cheese with us at Cheesewick! I know you will be as pleased as we are to see them back in our neck of the woods. www.yorkshiredamacheese.co.uk

Image courtesy of www.wyneot.com

What’s new this month?

Doing dry january? Come and give ‘wyneot’ a dry run at our January market and as Mel and Nick (creators of the drink) say, this is not wine, this is wyne’ot, a non-alcoholic alternative.

They tell us Wyneot is the perfect blend of the essential flavours of twelve different fruits, herbs and spices and has all the complexity and intensity of proper grown-up wine – we are very excited to try it and see how it fairs alongside the wonderful array of cheese on offer at the market – perhaps we will find a perfect pairing for dry January? wyneot.com

Image courtesy www.mothersbakehouse.com

Mother’s Bakehouse

Kate started baking sour dough in the summer of 2022 in order to feed a hungry family and reduce her reliance on supermarkets – very admirable I hear you say, but this soon grew into a fledgling business and Fulham based Kate supplies shops and individuals locally with her bread.

We are thrilled to announce that she will be at the market this January to offer us her home made freshly baked loaves. mothersbakehouse.com

image courtesy of www.hollismead.com

Hollismead Dairy

We are also welcoming Hollismead Dairy, an organic farm from Dorset. They are bringing their utterly unctuous Benville Triple cream organic soft cheese with notes of wildflowers and the native pastures that exclusively make up the cows’ diets.

This Brie style cheese when it is young has a slightly crumbly core but later as it ages, the rind firms with its core simply melts on the mouth. Described by the Guild of Fine food as ‘utter perfection’ we can’t wait to try it and I’m sure you can’t either!

They will also be bringing their kefir created in collaboration with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his team at River Cottage – and if its good enough for Hugh I’m definitely going to give this a try! hollismead.com

The jam packed, exciting list of all the stall holders at the next market can be found as always at chiswickcheesemarket.uk

It remains for me to sing out loud – “climb every mountain, ford every stream, ‘til you find your dream-cheese”… I, for one, am getting all apres-ski just thinking about it  – See you there!

Lucy Cufflin

Chiswick Cheese Market Team

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New community artwork unveiled for the ‘W4th Plinth’

Image above: Giovanna Iorio, standing in front of her artwork; photograph Lucinda MacPherson; photograph Lucinda MacPherson

‘Sonic Serenity’ – Sound and Vision

Guest blog by Lucinda MacPherson

Art and science merged in a new public artwork by Giovanna Iorio, unveiled on Saturday 13 January near Turnham Green tube station.

Sonic Serenity: Chiswick Bridge and the Infinite is what the artist and poet describes as a ‘Voice Portrait” and has been made using a spectrogram to transform voices and sounds into a huge collage. This  creative process blends photography, sound, poetry and prose to make the invisible visible.

Giovanna, who originally hails from Rome, chose Chiswick Bridge as the principal subject of the piece as it is a local landmark and she often records sounds along the river, but her inspiration emanates from many cultures. What makes this work special, and different to the usual two dimensional pieces chosen for this speace, is the other dimension to the installation –  a soundscape called “One minute of Green”.

Image above: Visitors at the unveiling of the artwork on Saturday 13 January 2024

Visitors to the site, the railway embankment on Turnham Green Terrace, can hear this meditation on the word ‘green’ in multiple languages by scanning the barcode on the description to the left. Poets around the world repetitively chant various words for green with a variety of approaches – sometimes attacking the consonants, sometimes gently whispering, which in turn has been transformed into an alchemy of shapes and colours in the collage.

The artist’s  interpretation of a specially modified spectrogram’s response to poetry and prose has resulted in green, blue and black shapes evoking flora emerging from the river, upside down daisies, starbursts and dripping paint which have been overlayed with a photographic image of the bridge.

The Infinite is a reference to “L’infinito”, a 19th century poem written by Giacomo Leopardi read by a poet in the original Italian, and transmuted into one of the visual layers.

Image above: Artist Giovanna Iorio

“What I want to communicate is that I am symbolically merging this part of Chiswick into The Infinite and I am also merging my culture with Chiswick.” explains Giovanna.

This is the fifth year that an artwork has been displayed on Transport for London’s brick wall by Turnham Green tube station, turning an urban landscape into a hub for community life, art, and planting. The changing series of artworks have been shortlisted, from hundreds of submissions, by the curators of this project, Abundance London, and voted on by the public.

The ceremony for the official unveiling was all the more convivial thanks to a choir from Chiswick School, Abundance making bird and bat boxes with families and ace caterer Harriet Benton and her jovial team serving warm cider and sandwiches. 11am felt a bit early to be drinking cider, but I have it on very good authority (Knock it Back Bridget, no less), that it tasted much better than mulled wine.

Image above: Harriet Benton (second from right) and helpers; photograph Lucinda MacPherson

Recipe for mulled cider

Harriet has kindly shared the recipe. she says:

“As I’m sure you know this sort of drink is always a little guess work, especially in large quantities. This is what we did, the following is the closest I can get to the recipe we used”:

Into one large 40 x litre stock pot place four x litres of Apple juice (we used Cawstons), 800 x mls of calvados, six x finely sliced large naval oranges, 20 x cinnamon sticks & a little cassia, 10 x star anise, 30 x cloves (may be a little more), 400 x gms dark brown sugar, and six x tablespoons of allspice berries.

“We left this to mull overnight & at 8.00am on the day of serving put the pot onto the hob (needs very strong person).

“Pour 16 x litres dry cider into pot (we used Henry Westons vintage and a very patient person)

“Leave to warm through & gently bring to simmer but never let it boil.

“Lift pot off the hob & wrap in cling film. Carry very hot, very heavy pot to the car (two very strong people needed)

“Drive car gently to Piazza Set up (borrowed camping gas burner). Lift hot & heavy pot out of car & place on camping gas burner.

“Drink & be merry!”

Alternatively

Ingredients

  • 1½ litre dry cider
  • 7 tbsp Calvados
  • 400ml apple juice
  • 75g dark brown sugar
  • pared zest of orange into strips
  • 4 cloves
  • 2cinnamon sticks broken in half
  • 1 tbsp allspice berries

Method

  • STEP 1 Pour the cider, Calvados, apple juice and sugar into a large saucepan, and gently heat to mull.
  • STEP 2 Add the orange zest and spices, bring to a simmer, then turn down and keep on a low heat for 20-30 mins. Ladle into glass mugs to serve.

Image above: Giovanna with the team from Abundance London

L’infinito

Giovanna has kindly shared the poem:

L’infinito

Sempre caro mi fu quest’ermo colle,

e questa siepe, che da tanta parte

dell’ultimo orizzonte il guardo esclude.

Ma sedendo e mirando, interminati

spazi di là da quella, e sovrumani

silenzi, e profondissima quïete

io nel pensier mi fingo; ove per poco

il cor non si spaura. E come il vento

odo stormir tra queste piante, io quello

infinito silenzio a questa voce

vo comparando: e mi sovvien l’eterno,

e le morte stagioni, e la presente

e viva, e ‘l suon di lei. Così tra questa

immensità s’annega il pensier mio:

e ‘l naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare.

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Fashion and fiction in Chiswick – ‘A Sparkling Vintage Affair’

Image above: Library image of models on a catwalk from Freerange Stock

Sale of pre-loved designer clothes, with live music, afternoon tea, and a chat with celebrity authors Gaby Roslin and Adele Parks

“January can be so drear, and we wanted to capitalise on the Twixtmas urge to have a clear out” says Jacks Thomas.

The event organiser par excellence (London Book Fair, Bologna Book Fair, originator of the Chiswick Book Festival) is raising money for St Michael & All Angels Church charities, with a “sparkling vintage affair” at the church, involving fashion, cake, and a couple of celebrity authors, this Saturday (20 January) at 3pm.

In the best tradition of the Chiswick Book Festival, she will be talking to TV and radio presenter Gaby Roslin and novelist Adele Parks about their current books, but this time there is far more involved – a whole programme involving live music, a sit down tea, “complete with bubbly”, a catwalk fashion show of “vintage classics” and the opportunity to buy some pre-loved designer clothes to raise money for the church’s charities.

Sounds like a fun afternoon.

Image above: Prêt-à-Portea at the Berkeley hotel

“It’s meant to be like an afternoon tea at a posh hotel”

“It’s meant to be like an afternoon tea at a posh hotel – Prêt-à-Portea at the Berkley”, she says, “only it’s in the church”.

Prêt-à-Portea is ‘a playful and stylish selection of couture cakes inspired by designers from Victoria Beckham to Nina Ricci’, according to the Berkeley hotel’s website. ‘This season’s collection opens with a striking Versace gown, immortalised in vanilla mousse, Emmanuel sponge, a fig and plum compote, all topped off with a fashionable fruit tulle skirt.’

Jacks has gone one better. She is offering a Vanessa Bruno navy coat, an Ashish beaded skirt  and a cream silk blouse from Alexandra Shulman’s wardrobe, and biscuits made by Sarah Gronmark, Parish Council member and excellent cake maker; (she made a spectacular cake for playwright Michael Frayn’s 90th birthday, given to him at the last book festival).

Image above: Fashion biscuits by Sarah Gronmark

Calling in favours for charity

How does she come to have a Vanessa Bruno navy coat, an Ashish beaded skirt  and a cream silk blouse belonging to the longest serving editor of British Vogue?

“Oh, she’s a friend, I’ve known her a long time” she says airly. “It’s very generous of her, because she is hosting her own event a week later.”

Among the other designer bargains to be snapped up are clothes by  Christian Dior, Hardy Amies, Bruce Oldfield, and some Biba Originals. Jacks has had a big career in publishing, but other than being a keen follower of fashion, she has no professional connection to the industry, she says. I assumed, having not met her, that she was tall and willowy and and a natural clothes horse. She laughed.

“I am short and dumpy, but it doesn’t stop me appreciating the creativity of fashion.”

Images above: Vintage wedding dress and cream silk blouse and skirt from Alexandra Shulman’s wardrobe

Gaby Roslin is also a mate. Her book Spread the Joy came out in the autumn.

‘Celebrated TV presenter, storied radio broadcaster and beloved podcast creator – over the years, we have come to know and adore Gaby Roslin for her unbridled enthusiasm and infectious energy. Now, Gaby is on a mission to help others discover all the joy and fun that life has to offer’ says the book bumph.

‘In Spread the Joy, Gaby Roslin shows us how to live a more joyful life, one Tiny Task at a time. Whether at home, at work or on your commute, be inspired to find and create pockets of joy in your day.’

Images above: Gaby Roslin and Adele Parks promoting their books

Adele Parks, herself an upcycler according to Jacks, is now on her 23rd best-selling book – one a year since her first novel Playing Away came out in 2000, including Sunday Times Number One best-sellers Lies Lies Lies and Just My Luck.

Her latest book, Just Between Us, is a thriller about the disappearance of a woman with a shocking secret – she is married to two men at the same time.

Tickets for the afternoon, which include afternoon tea and Prosecco, as well as all the entertainment, are £25.

The charities which benefit are two local based charities and one which operates overseas. The Upper Room is a front-line charity working with socially and economically disadvantaged people in West London. Crosslight Chiswick, based in St Nicholas Church, provides face-to-face debt advice, together with money education and budgeting support to individuals and families in need. Swinfen Telemedicine (Swinfen Charitable Trust) facilitates access to specialist medical expertise for doctors and nurses working in remote regions of the world.

If you are interested in buying clothes but don’t have time this Saturday to commit to a whole afternoon, you can buy a ticket on the door for £2 for the last 45 minutes – from 4.45 – 5.30pm. There will be changing rooms available to try on the clothes.

Tickets here: St Michael & All Angels, Bedford Park

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Cat boots by Jocie Juritz

Images above: Jocie Juritz with her cat boots

How a lockdown project launched Jocie’s career as a designer of shoes and boots

We all had lockdown projects – learn a new language, bake banana bread, watch the entire Endeavour / Inspector Morse / Lewis series in sequence – but some of us were more ambitious and productive than others. Jocie Juritz learned how to make boots and shoes, and has turned her new skill into a new career.

“I sold my first pair nearly two years ago – a year and eight months – to Shelby in the US”.

Jocie dates her new career as a boot and shoe designer from her first online sale to someone she didn’t know. She has now sold 250 pairs of boots, purely through her Instagram account. Coming from Chiswick, she studied animation at Kingston University, and has worked as an animator for ten years, which she still does.

“I nearly studied fashion, but the animation course looked more fun”.

I can see the natural progression. She captures the movement of her cats, Ziggy and Etta, perfectly in her animations, and there is a fluidity of movement in her design for her boots – the white boot with the black cat named after Ziggy, and the black boot with the white cat named after Etta, who are half Rag-doll and half La Perm, and very photogenic.

Images above: (L) Ziggy; (R) Etta, with the boots named after them

Taking Ziggy and Etta to Portugal

She was hooked by Amanda Overs’ course ‘I can make shoes‘ , which teaches anyone the necessary skills, from a total beginner to a designer starting a shoe brand.

“You need a last, a sewing machine and a few basic tools” says Jocie, “I learned to make them myself but I can’t make them at home at the quality required to sell them.”

Amanda introduced her to Portugal Production, the sourcing agency which found her a manufacturer. Based in Braga, in the north of Portugal, where the shoe making industry is based, they take an initial concept from a designer and help them navigate the process of development and production, producing samples, developing packaging, onto the manufacturing process, quality control and shipping. No need to reinvent the wheel and work everything out for yourself from scratch.

Image above: Manufacturers in Portugal, with their own cat

“The response has been amazing”

As yet, Jocie has just the two types of boot available in natural leather – Ziggy (black on white) and Etta (white on black), which she also sells as a mix and match pair (one of each), which is proving popular. She has launched a range of socks and also sells semi-permanent tattoos, all cat designs.

Has she ever had any complaints from customers?

“I have been incredibly lucky with my customers”, she says. “The response has been amazing, they’ve been lovely. Occasionally someone sends a pair back because they don’t fit, but that is all. They are incredibly patient because I only have them made to order, so there is no waste, and the process from pre-ordering to delivery takes three months.”

Images above: New styles coming in March

Expanding the collection

Jocie is about to launch six new styles in March – high and low sandals, mules and low heeled boots.

“The collection is expanding slowly” she says.

Always cats?

“Eventually I will move away from cats – next year.”

If you would like to buy her boots, socks or tattoos, you can do so through her website:

jociejuritzcollection.com

Sizes 36 – 43 (UK sizes 3 – 10). Delivery in the UK free. At the moment she has several sizes in stock, available straight away.

Her animations are available here:

jociejuritz.com

Images above: Socks and tattoos

Jocie Juritz Collection joins the Club Card scheme

I am delighted to tell you Jocie has joined our Club Card scheme, offering a discount to holders of a Chiswick Calendar Club Card:

“We’re excited to offer special discounts to Chiswick Calendar Club Card members. 20% off cat boots until the end of January 2023 using the code CHISWICK20. From February onwards members can get 10% off on all shoes using the code CHISWICK10.”

Image above: Jocie Juritz designs

Chiswick Calendar party 2024 – CRAP awards and comedy

Image above: Editor of The Chiswick Calendar Bridget Osborne with Ruth Cadbury MP; photographs by Anna Kunst

CRAP awards and a sketch with Ruth Cadbury MP and Jeremy Vine

Ruth Cadbury MP presented The Chiswick Calendar’s CRAP awards (Chiswick Residents’ Active Participation) at our party on Thursday (11 January), to people, or groups who had done something over the past year to make Chiswick a better, or more interesting place to live.

She also put her reputation in our hands (a considerable risk) by taking part in a sketch, presented and co-written by Jeremy Vine and based on the Two Ronnies Mastermind sketch from 1980, in which the contestant has to give the answer to the previous question. She was there with the two other MPs who represent parts of Chiswick in parliament – Rupa Huq and Andy Slaughter.

The occasion marked our ninth birthday as a website and weekly newsletter, and the last year that Ruth will represent Chiswick in Parliament. Whether or not she wins the next General Election, she will no longer be our MP, as the boundary changes mean the portion of Chiswick which is currently in Brentford & Isleworth will be in the constituency of Hammersmith & Chiswick after the next election, expected in the autumn.

Image above: Editor of The Chiswick Calendar Bridget Osborne at the party

2024 CRAP awards

We have given community awards for several years to recognise people for the contribution they make to Chiswick life. Previous winners have been a mix of individuals and organisations, including charities such as West London Welcome and The Upper Room, and new initiatives such as the Chiswick Flower Market and Chiswick Cheese Market. Many of those who organise cultural and social events in Chiswick, or run businesses here, were at the party.

READ ALSO: Winners of The Chiswick Calendar’s 2023 community awards

This year we focused on Chiswick’s cultural life. Ruth presented each with a certificate printed and framed for us by Snappy Snaps and a presentation bottle of Fuller’s Vintage Ale.

Image above: Ruth Cadbury; Bridget Osborne; Torin Douglas

Torin Douglas

Torin Douglas has received one of our community awards before, and rather more importantly, he has received an MBE for his work in the community. As Director of the Chiswick Book Festival and a prime mover in the Bedford Park Festival and any of the other cultural events which emerge from St Michael & All Angels Church, he does more than anyone else to enrich Chiswick’s cultural and community life.

We are particularly grateful to him for being a supporter of The Chiswick Calendar from its inception, offering advice and encouragement. He hosts an annual networking drinks with ArtsEd, which was also last week, to further his aim of bringing people together in Chiswick, rather than each arts organisation, media platform and business remaining in its own separate silo. That is the ethos which has enabled cultural events in Chiswick to flourish.

This year’s CRAP award was to mark 15 years of the Chiswick Book Festival, which they celebrated in 2023.

Image above: Ruth Cadbury presenting the award to Simon and Sarah Reilly

Sarah & Simon Reilly – Theatre at the Tabard

Sarah and Simon Reilly took over the running of the studio theatre above the Tabard pub in the summer of 2022, with their company Take Note Theatre. Simon is the artistic director and Sarah the executive director and creative producer.

Since they have taken over the lease it has been an uphill struggle to refurbish the theatre space and bring in enough money to create consistently high quality productions, but they have managed it. Three shows won awards in last year’s London Pub Theatres awards – Next Door’s Baby, About Bill and The Silence of Snow, about the author Patrick Hamilton, who lived in Chiswick, putting them firmly on the pub theatre map.

Their most recent production, The Secret Garden has been nominated for the Standing Ovation Awards, run by London Pub Theatres, and it has been nominated for a Office – an Off West End Award. And now – the icing on the cake – they have a Chiswick Calendar CRAP award to put on the wall.

Image above: Chris Parker from Chiswick Cinema receiving his award

Chris Parker – Chiswick Cinema

The Chiswick Cinema celebrated its second year last summer. Unlike most cinemas, where you just go and get your popcorn and watch a film, Chris and general manager Keiichi have made it a very firm policy to open the space to the community of Chiswick. They have made the bar and ground floor space available to community groups to hold events; created a tiny gallery in the reception area for artists to show their work on rotation; but also the public is also welcome to come and work on a laptop in the warm with a cup of coffee, without even seeing a film.

Best of all, Chris has initiated a programme of Q&A events, bringing A list actors, director and writers that gives the BFI a run for its money, all within walking distance of home for Chiswick residents.

Over the past year we have had the Richard Attenborough centenary season, which Chris planned with Michael Attenborough, Richard’s son. Also a Karel Reisz season; director John Madden came to talk about Shakespeare in Love. Vanessa Redgrave, Stephen Frears, Penelope Wilton, Geraldine James and Sir Ben Kingsley have all popped in for a Q&A session. Not least we have established a Chiswick In Film festival together with industry professionals Rob Sprackling (writer) and Andrea Carnevali (editor) – the third of which will take place this November.

Image above: Guests at The Chiswick Calendar party

Simon Randall – Headliners comedy club

Simon Randall has been running Headliners Comedy Club in the back room of George IV for more than 20 years. He attract really big names: Nina Conti was there last weekend. She was brilliant, as was Ardal O’Hanlon when he appeared in the autumn.

When I interviewed Omid Djalili last summer, for the Ealing Comedy Festival (which Simon also runs), he told me what a debt of gratitude they all owed Simon for plugging away promoting comedy in west London. For us it’s just great to be able to see top class standup week in, week out, without having to go into town.

Image above: Guests at The Chiswick Calendar party

Paul Hyman – In the Drink campaign

Paul Hyman runs Active 360, the paddleboarding centre at Kew Bridge. He regularly organises clean-ups of the river by paddleboard, picking plastic bags out of the bushes and picking up traffic cones, polystyrene, bottles – all the detritis of London life which ruins the look of the River Thames and represents a danger to wildlife.

He is a prime mover in the In the Drink campaign to persuade pubs, particularly riverside pubs, not to use plastic cups.

Image above: Guests at The Chiswick Calendar party

Donna Schoenherr – Ballet4Life & Move into Wellbeing

Donna Schoenherr’s Ballet4Life dance school is celebrating 20 years this year. A professional ballet dancer herself, she offers classes not just in ballet but in all sorts of different dance genres, to adults, both beginners and those who want to return to dance later in life. She also set up Move into Wellbeing to offer classes to people with restricted movement.

Simon, Paul and Donna were not able to be at the event to pick up their awards in person.

Image above: Leonora Yorath; Jo McCaul; Michelle Lepherd

Chiswick Women’s cricket team

Chiswick has a women’s cricket team. It was started during Covid when Leonora Yorath decided she wanted to get out of the house and get some exercise. There has been a men’s team for decades, so she thought it about time there was a women’s one. They started playing competitively in a league last season.

Last year’s team captain Jo McCaul and newly trained ladies coach Michelle Lepherd joined Leonora to pick up their award.

Image above: Jill Spencer receiving the award on behalf of the Chiswick Repair Cafe

Chiswick Repair Cafe

Of all the recent initiatives in Chiswick I think the Chiswick Repair Cafe is the most forward looking – it enables people to keep items they love and value, and it promotes sustainability. Once a month in Christ Church on Turnham Green on a Saturday, you will find a collection of volunteer menders, with a variety of tools, willing to have a go at mending anything. And more volunteers at the ready with home made cake. How can anyone fail to admire such an enterprise? Our thanks to Charlotte Bullock, Kate Hollis, Marie-Claire Meisels and Jill Spencer for setting it up.

Image above: Zac Moxon, Head of Music at Chiswick School receiving his award

Zac Moxon – Chiswick School Head of Music

Zac won the Outstanding New Teacher of the Year award at the 2023 Pearson National Teaching Awards. As the award suggests, he has only been teaching a year or two, but is already Head of Music at Chiswick School. He wins our award for taking the school’s music out into the community. The school now has several choirs and rock bands, and a steel band run by Samuel Dubois. They make their music groups avaialable to play  in the pubs, churches and open air markets, and at community events.

Thanks to …

Our sponsors – John D Wood, who are stepping down this year but have sponsored us from the beginning, allowing us to grow; continuing support from Asahi, Fuller’s and the Hogarth Club.

Thanks to our new sponsors, Horton & Garton, and Rocks Lane sports centre, who have sponsored our new sports directory.

Thanks to Jeremy Vine for co-writing and presenting our version of the Two Ronnies Mastermind sketch, and to Ruth Cadbury for performing it with him. Thanks to the Two Ronnies and their writers for their comedy genius!

Thanks also to violinist David Juritz and pianist Sally Heath for the music, and to George IV general manager Ben Bullman for hosting us and providing the beer.

See who you can spot, who you know, among the party goers.

 

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Queens Park Rangers star visits DKMS blood cancer charity

Image above: Jimmy Dunne at DKMS’s offices in Chiswick

Queens Park Ranger defender joins call to ‘delete blood cancer’

Chiswick-based charity DKMS’s mission to delete blood cancer got a major boost recently after Queens Park Rangers star defender Jimmy Dunne visited their offices on Horticultural Place.

Jimmy and QPR have been key supporters of DKMS’ work to encourage more people to sign up as potential stem cell donors, including hosting the charity as their official ‘match day partners’ for their home match at their Loftus Road stadium in December.

Today, as he toured the DKMS offices, Jimmy heard how, every twenty minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with blood cancer. He filmed a video showing how quick and easy it is to sign up, including completing a simple mouth swab kit (which DKMS sends out free of charge).

Jimmy also met Peter McCleave, who needs a stem cell transplant following a life-altering diagnosis of myeloma, and who has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of the need for more stem cell donors, in particular from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Jimmy said: “It’s been a real eye-opener today, to see the amount of work that goes into giving someone a second chance at life. It puts football into perspective for me.”

DKMS spokesperson Deborah Hyde said:

“Everyone at DKMS loved meeting Jimmy – his keenness to learn about what we do, and his enthusiasm for ensuring more people with blood cancer get the stem cell transplants they need was so inspiring. Together we can delete blood cancer!”

It’s quick and simple to register with DKMS as a potential stem cell donor at dkms.org.uk. Anyone aged 17—55 years who is in general good health can sign up to receive a simple mouth swab kit that potential donors can do at home and send back to DKMS for processing.

Images above: Jimmy Dunne doing a mouth swab at DKMS’s offices in Chiswick

Thames Barrier raised after high tide warning

Image above: Flooding on Chiswick Mall

Flood barrier reopened at 6.00pm on Monday 

The Thames Barrier was closed on Monday 14 January due to a high spring tide forecast, combined with high river flow, due to all the recent rain, and northerly winds, creating small tidal surge which has put central and west London at risk of flooding.

The Barrier in east London closed at 12.00pm on Monday (15 February). Similar barriers at Barking and Dartford were also closed.

It is the 211th time the barrier has protected London from potentially catastrophic flooding in over 40 years.

High tide peaked at around 3.47pm. Alan Smith, senior flood forecaster at The Thames Barrier, said the tide was “slightly below forecast, but still a worthwhile closure”.

Flood waters are a regular site in Chiswick during high tide, especially around Chiswick Mall and the Thames footpath near the Bull’s Head. Tides have been unusually high as of late, especially around Chiswick Mall, where there was extensive flooding recently.

The barrier reopened at 6.00pm on Monday.

Image above: Thames Barrier library image

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Police shoot dead “out of control dog” in Ealing

Image above: Screenshot of video on Twitter of police moments before dog is shot

Police shoot dog after it killed another animal

Armed Metropolitan Police officers shot dead an “out of control” dog on a west London street on Sunday (14 January) after it killed another animal.

Footage posted on X, formerly Twitter, showed a firearms officer in a stand-off with the black dog as it dragged a smaller dog along the pavement in Queens Avenue, Ealing.

A shot is fired at the dog, whose breed has not been disclosed, before it runs up the street, pursued by two firearms officers. Some viewers may find the footage distressing.

Scotland Yard confirmed the dog was destroyed to prevent it from causing harm to the public:

“We were called at 10:39hrs on 14 Jan to a report of a dog out of control having killed another dog in Queens Ave, Greenford,” said a Met spokesperson.

“Officers attended and took the decision to destroy the dog at the scene in order to prevent it from causing further serious harm. We know that this will have been upsetting for those present.”

Footage of the incident has been viewed thousands of times on social media.

Legislation has recently came into effect around specific breeds of dangerous dogs, namely the American XL Bully.

As of 31 December 2023 it is now illegal to sell, breed or give away an XL Bully dog, as they are prohibited under the Dangerous Dog Act. Owners have until the 31 January 2024 to exempt their dogs they suspect of being a XL Bully under the Government process or ensure they are humanely euthanised.

Chiswick menswear shop American Pie closing down after nearly 50 years

Image above: American Pie on Chiswick High Road with closing down sale notices in its window

Men’s clothing shop to close after 47 years

American Pie, the men’s clothing shop at 198-200 Chiswick High Rd, is closing down after 47 years.

Closing down sale notices appeared in its windows recently and Bashir Mohammed, the shop’s owner, confirmed to The Chiswick Calendar that the shop would be closing permanently.

Bashir said he will be retiring, as he approaches his 74th birthday in March.

“There’s nothing more to it than that. No financial or trading issues” Bashir said.

All staff at the shop will be made redundant, according to one senior member of staff working there. Staff said American Pie will close its doors for the final time towards the end of February.

In 2022, American Pie’s sister shop Collection closed down, after Bashir and his wife could not agree an extension to the shop’s lease with the landlord.

Hounslow Council opt for maximum social rent increase from April

Image above: Hounslow House, headquarters of Hounslow Council

Social rents in Hounslow will increase by 7.7%

Hounslow Council has put forth a proposal for a significant 7.7% increase in social housing rents starting from April, the maximum allowable hike according to government regulations.

This rise is compounded by additional cost increments for tenants, covering heating and service charges. A report due to be presented to the Council’s Cabinet is seeking permission to delegate authority to the Executive Director for Regeneration and Housing, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing Management and Homelessness, to implement the proposed rent hikes.

The calculated increase in social housing rent is based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 1%, aligning with the policy outlined by the Social Housing Regulator in January 2024. The government’s Policy statement on rents issued in February 2019 allowed for annual rent increases on social and affordable rent properties, up to CPI plus 1 percentage point from 2020. This was stipulated for a minimum of five years following the completion of the rent reduction period, as mandated by the Welfare and Reform Act.

The maximum rise was capped at 7% last year to alleviate the cost-of-living pressure on tenants. In the absence of this restriction, the increase would have been a higher 11.1%.

The council argues that this limitation, imposed during a period of high inflation and rising interest rates, led to a reduction of funds in the Housing Revenue Account (HRA). Without the maximum rent increase, the Council foresees a permanent reduction in resources, hindering their housing business plan and diminishing funds available for investment in both new and existing housing stock.

Average weekly rents to go up by almost £10

As a consequence, the average weekly rent for social housing across the borough is expected to surge from £121.23 to £130.56. Rent variations will occur based on the property’s valuation, type, and location.

Failing to fully cover the costs of services funded by charges could force the Council to reduce service levels or have tenants who do not use these services subsidising them. Communal electricity prices are set to spike by 20%, and where tenants are eligible for housing benefits, services charges stipulated in the tenancy agreement are generally covered.

Properties on District Heating systems without individual meters will continue to receive a weekly charge for District Heating consumption. Gas and electricity consumption charges, which increased by 100% and 90% respectively between 2022/23 and 2023/24, are proposed to see a further increase of 6.7%.

Caretaking and cleaning services are also slated for an 11.9% increase, outpacing the rate of inflation, attributed to under-recovery in previous years.

The freehold service charge management fee is set to rise to £347 per property from April, with reduced fees for those receiving fewer services. Additionally, there will be a 6.7% increase in garage rents for tenants, leaseholders, and private lets.

Crane collapses at Park Royal building site

Images above: Photographs of the collapsed crane at a building site in Park Royal

Crane is third Falcon crane to collapse in recent years

A crane has collapsed at a former hospital site in west London.

The London Fire Brigade was alerted at around 9.15am on Friday (12 January) that a tower crane’s jib had fallen down at the Central Middlesex Hospital development in Park Royal, causing minor damage to a building under construction.

The site was unoccupied and no one was hurt, but ten people were evacuated from a nearby building as a precaution. Metropolitan Police officers were called to the site at around 11.30am and cordoned off the area, a fire engine also attended.

The crane owner, Falcon Cranes, is working to remove it from the site and contractor Durkan is investigating, according to developer Sovereign Network Group. A spokesperson for Sovereign Network Group added:

“We are aware a crane at one of our construction sites near Central Middlesex Hospital collapsed in the early hours of Friday morning.

“The crane’s owner Falcon is now working to safely remove it from the site, and our contractor partners Durkan are investigating the cause. Emergency services remain on site and will have a 24/7 presence to make sure the area remains safe.”

Two incidents of Falcon cranes fatally collapsing in recent years

Falcon is the owner of a crane that collapsed in Edinburgh six weeks ago, injuring two people. The company will also appear in court in November over another crane collapse in 2017, after which three men died.

The Central Middlesex Hospital project comprises 158 homes across four new residential buildings ranging from six to 15 storeys. All homes will be classed as affordable, with 134 shared ownership units and 24 priced for London affordable rent.

As part of the scheme an old refectory building, which formed part of the original Central Middlesex Hospital campus, is being refurbished.

The development is part of the regeneration plan around Old Oak Common station. Durkan started construction in 2022 and is due to complete work in 2024.

A Health and Safety Executive spokesperson said the inspectorate is investigating the incident.

A spokesperson for Falcon Cranes said:

“It has been reported to us that the jib of one of our luffing jib tower cranes collapsed overnight at a construction site in Acton.

“The crane was not in operation at the time and there are no reports of injuries or structural damage to other property.

“We will be conducting a thorough investigation of all immediate and underlying causes of the collapse.”

Invictus Games athlete has stolen prosthetic limbs returned after theft from Chiswick car park

Image above: Mark Ormrod

Invictus Games athlete’s prosthetic limbs were later found in Chiswick alley

Mark Ormrod MBE has had his prosthetic legs returned to him by a Good Samaritan, after having had them stolen by thieves in Chiswick. Mark is a former Royal Marine, Invictus Games athlete, author and motivational speaker. After triggering an improvised explosive device during a routine foot patrol in 2007, he suffered serious injuries resulting in a triple amputation – both legs and one arm.

A set of Mark’s prosthetic limbs were stolen last Tuesday (9 January) while he was staying at the Premier Inn in Chiswick, when his car was broken into by thieves.

The boot window of Mark’s car was smashed and the contents stolen.

“They stole a bag full of sweaty gym clothes, another bag with my JiuJitsu Gi in and what’s really inconvenient is they took a set of my prosthetic legs!” the former Royal Marine vented on X, formerly Twitter.

“Despite having 3 cameras pointing at my car I was told by the staff at the hotel that they couldn’t see any activity as the view to my car was blocked by another car (might be time to reposition those cameras).

“The sad thing is to think that someone would break into a car parked in a disabled parking space and steal equipment someone needs to live independently and not even care.”

Local woman returned belongings the next day

The following evening, Mark took to X again to tell his followers that a Good Samaritan in Chiswick had returned all of his belongings to him, after finding them discarded in an alleyway.

Mark praised the ‘power of social media’ after noticing an unnamed woman had messaged him after finding all of the stolen items in the alley close to where she lived.

Mark took to X again, speaking of the impact the incident has had on him:

“I’ve been thinking a lot these last 24hrs!

“For someone to break into anyone’s car and steal from them is wrong. To break into a disabled persons car makes me think that the thief was desperate and I’m going to assume (rightly or wrongly) that they’re life’s in a bad place and they’re down on their luck, HOWEVER what I will say is this…

“We may not always be responsible for our situations in life and it may not always be our fault when we’re down on our luck BUT… it is ALWAYS our responsibility to pull ourselves up and make our lives better (internally & externally).

“Whoever you are that broke into my car I hope that if you are down on your luck that things change. Draw a line in the sand, take personally responsibility for your life, pull yourself up and take your life to where you want it to be.”

Man taken to hospital with head injury after collision near Turnham Green

Image above: Air ambulance on Turnham Green on Wednesday 10 January

Road still closed several hours later

A man has suffered a head injury and been taken to hospital by air ambulance, after a being hit by a car in Chiswick on Wednesday afternoon (10 January).

An air ambulance landed on Turnham Green shortly after 1.00pm. According to eyewitnesses, a man who appeared to be in his 60s, with grey hair and beard, was already on a stretcher with an ambulance and police in already in attendance when the air ambulance touched down.

Police cordoned off Heathfield Terrace between the Sutton Court Road junction and Rhythm and Brews cafe for several hours, while they questioned witnesses. The road was still partially closed and the police still there at 7.00pm on Wednesday. Police officers told us investigations were “ongoing”.

We understand the driver stopped at the scene, and was also questioned by police.

Injured man taken to major trauma centre

Police went door to door to check door camera footage on houses near the scene.

A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said:

“We were called at 12.41pm today (10 January) to reports of a road traffic collision involving a car and a pedestrian at the junction between Heathfield Gardens and Sutton Lane North, Chiswick.

“We sent resources to the scene, including an ambulance crew, an incident response officer and dispatched London’s Air Ambulance.

“We treated a man at the scene for a head injury and took him to a major trauma centre as a priority.”

Images above: Police tape closed off part of Heathfield Terrace on Wednesday

West London named as global hotspot for film and TV industry

Image above: Filming in west London – via West London Film office

West London film industry attracted staggering £5.4 billion in investment in 2022

A recent report delving into the economic prospects of the film and TV industry has affirmed west London’s as a prominent global destination. The study, conducted by Saffery Champness LLP and Nordicity, commissioned by Hounslow Borough Council in collaboration with Creative Enterprise Zone West and Screen Capital West, aimed to scrutinise the local economic benefits of film and TV studios in West London.

Highlighting the area’s contribution to both the regional economy and serving as a model for other UK regions, the report revealed the substantial growth and job creation potential of the industry. It aimed to broaden the discourse beyond the immediate impact of film and TV production to encompass the entire supply chain across the sub-region.

Despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic, the UK remains a premier choice for Hollywood productions, with a substantial uptick in film production reaching nearly £2 billion in 2022 after a temporary slump in 2020 and 2021.

Image above: Presentation of Young Film Makers award by Michael Attenborough at the 2023 Chsiwick In Film festival, which recognises the wealth of TV and film talent in Chiswick

The UK’s film and TV industry is an export-oriented sector, standing out as a key driver of the economy. In 2022 alone, the industry attracted a staggering £5.4 billion in inward investment production, reinforcing its pivotal role in the country’s service sector.

West London, comprising Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, and Hounslow, is strategically positioned to leverage these investments. The area hosts a significant workforce in film and TV, constituting one of the largest concentrations of industry professionals in the UK.

The report highlights the ripple effect of film and TV projects on various industries, encompassing building materials, security services, studio and equipment hires, and catering. Notably, expenditures on art department materials lead the spending, followed by location fees, services, security, and production equipment hires.

The study projects that a 100,000 sq. ft. stage space can generate between £60 million and £80 million in annual film and TV production expenditure, showcasing the substantial economic impact. Additionally, approximately 25% of a project’s budget is attributed to local spending, involving a myriad of suppliers and service providers across different sectors.

West London stands to benefit significantly from these supply chain expenditures, as evidenced by the presence of over 71 companies supporting film production in the area, including six film studios and 65 supply chain companies.

Image above: Set pieces for filming of Victorian drama in Barnes featuring Steven Graham along the Thames towpath; photograph Nick Raikes

“The original home of the British film industry”

Bill Boler, Partnerships Director, West London Business and Creative Enterprise West, commented on the findings:

“Most film and TV audits only look at job creation, whereas this study looked at the businesses in the film and TV supply chain, and so the wider economic impact of the film and TV industry. Given the setbacks experienced by the industry in 2023, this report shows the growth potential from the inevitable pent-up demand for production services that are expected in 2024 and beyond.”

Michelle Jenkins, Head of Production Services at Film London said:

As a freelance and often transient industry, key statistics regarding benefits for local regions are usually difficult to obtain.  So, it’s incredibly useful to have a study that provides the deep-dive data that we all need to highlight the true value of film and TV to West London, the original home of the British film industry.

“I am delighted to see that this report provides crucial information that will empower the region to invest, resource and ultimately grow our industry in the area to the benefit of local residents and businesses.”

Barry Bassett, Managing Director, VMI.TV Ltd, said:

“This is an incredibly positive report which stresses the importance of the value and impact of supply chains across our industry to generate the current £6bn+ annual GVA and which is projected to rise to £8bn by 2026 for the UK TV/Film Industry.  Ours is an incredibly integrated ecosystem, which sees all crafts benefitting in an expanding market and it is gratifying to hear the Government restate their commitment to supporting our world-class freelance workforce”.

Ryan Dean, Company Director, RD Studios, said:

“As the owner of a film studio in Park Royal, it’s exciting to see the tangible impact our creative sector has on the local economy. This study not only underscores the vital role of film and TV studios in driving economic growth but highlights our commitment to fostering a thriving ecosystem that not only supports a diverse array of talents and businesses. Film studios are more than just production spaces; they are heartbeats of local communities, contributing significantly to the cultural and economic vibrancy of West London.”

Free school meals to be expanded across London for another academic year

Image above: School meals; library image

Free school meals for all primary children extended

London’s primary school students will be receiving free lunches for another year.  Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced he will inject £130 million into the initiative for the 2023-24 financial year, followed by an increased allocation of £140 million for the subsequent year.

The Mayor said he was delighted to extend the service for another year, describing it as a “lifeline” for many. Mr. Khan said he wanted to provide essential support to families struggling with their finances. City Hall estimates potential savings of up to £1,000 over two years per child, offering relief amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Currently, all children in state schools across England from reception to Year 2 are entitled to free school lunches, while Year 3-6 pupils from eligible benefit-receiving households also qualify under existing government regulations. Mayor Khan’s initiative fills the gap, providing meals for London pupils not covered under current government funding.

He told BBC London announcing the scheme’s continuation was one of his “proudest days as mayor”.

“I’ve spoken to teachers over the course of the last few months [and] I’ve seen the difference it makes in relation to better concentration, better attendance, better productivity,” he said.

The Mayor said take-up of free school meals had been at 85% in the September to December term last year, with 70 million free meals being served in London during that time.

While Mr. Khan’s move has been praised, it also sparked debates within the educational community. Impetus, a youth education charity, suggested that directing funds towards providing breakfast for disadvantaged pupils might have better served those most in need.

With the Mayoral election approaching, Susan Hall, the Conservative candidate, has pledged to maintain the policy if elected, extending the initiative through to the 2024-25 school year, at the very least.

Sara Ward on Living the Good Life January 2024

Image above: Sara Ward

Learning lessons and looking forward

Guest blog by Sara Ward

As we hunker down, whilst the nights are still long and the fairy lights have been packed away, we have the opportunity to look at the year ahead, as a blank canvas, and dare to dream before the weeks turn into months and the fruit trees are in blossom again. It’s always good to take stock, review the old aims (were they hit or miss?) and look over the lessons learned allowing ourselves to be confident with our new wisdom moving forward.

Here at Hen Corner, we’ve turned our Victorian terrace house into an ‘urban smallholding’ complete with 22 hens, four colonies of honey bees, 15 fruit and nut trees and an overflowing kitchen garden. Down by the canal, I’ve also got an allotment, with more bee hives, I run a microbakery from home every Friday and love to share all that we’ve discovered through our series of courses.

No, we’re not based in the Cotswolds, we are in Brentford!

What were the main lessons that we learnt last year?

  • Sow seeds generously – in preparation for failed germination, drying out, drowning, leggy seedlings, too hot, too cold, slugs, snails, caterpillars, pigeons and chickens. I think I only got a harvest from around 20% of the seeds sown
  • Know your own strength – last May I was pulling on a stubborn bramble in the church garden, I heard a crack and I realised that it wasn’t the plant snapping – it was one of my ribs. That took six weeks to heal and put my gardening on hold for a while.
  • Figs don’t ripen in the bowl – so don’t bother picking them when they are green and hard, have patience.
  • Squirrels know – when all crops are just becoming ripe (peaches, olives, almonds, etc.), so cover precious harvests with strong mesh, and if you see the squirrels scurrying along with your treasure in their mouths, stop everything and gather in all that’s left on the tree.
  • Smaller trees can’t complete – Sadly, a favourite Plum tree died last year because a huge bay tree was sucking all the moisture out of the soil. Plant trees where there is space for them to thrive without competition for sun and water.
  • Cauliflowers aren’t the only cauliflower – My big ambition for last year was to grow all the vegetables needed for my award-winning piccalilli recipe, we had a super crop of runner beans and cucumbers. Carrots and onions did fine as well, but all my cauliflowers failed, see reasons above, so I relented and bought plug plants, which grew really well but, as a winter variety, was sadly much too late for our late summer pickling project.

However, even with these setbacks, we still managed to harvest a total of £4,200 worth of food from the back garden, nearly 50% up on 2022, and have even higher ambitions for this year.

Looking forward, what are our plans?

I’m regularly asked how to plan a plot and what to grow and, over the years, I’ve found the following tips a really good foundation for a getting a valuable harvest

  • Fruits – These usually harvest every year with the minimum of maintenance, we have apples, pears, peaches, figs, plums and a variety of soft fruit
  • Perennials – The old faithfuls that feed us year upon year; rhubarb, artichokes, hardy herbs, horseradish, etc. Our favourite is asparagus and, once established, a bed can feed a family every week from April to June.
  • Favourite foods – See what grows well in our climate (not bananas or pineapples!) and try growing something that you love to eat; french beans are fun, tomatoes are tasty and cucumbers are crunchy.
  • High value – Raspberries and redcurrants can be pretty pricey in the shops but growing your own can produce bowl after bowl for many months of the year. We harvested around £35 of raspberries one year!
  • Best fresh – Most of the food we buy in the UK is at least a few days old, if not more, and many fruits and vegetables convert their natural sugars into starch once harvested. New potatoes and baby peas are just a couple of crops that taste amazing when freshly picked. Where else can you eat food within minutes of its harvest?
  • That which stores well – Winter squashes keep for ages in a cool place, rhubarb and runner beans are happy in the freezer, and other foods can be preserved or fermented allowing us to enjoy them all year round.

Why not have a go yourself this year? What would be your favourite food to grow?

As for me, I’m planning to grow all the ingredients for our range of pickles and preserves (excluding our marmalades and mango chutneys of course!) and would love to harvest all our own veg for this year’s traditional Christmas Dinner…

Coming up at Hen Corner:

January

Mondays, 6-8pm: Online Bread Courses

Tuesday 23 January: Introduction to Making Bread

Thursday 25 January: Introduction To Making Marmalade

Tuesday 20 January: Become a Bread Angel – Start your own MicroBakery

All courses, virtual & face to face, can be found at HenCorner.com

Sara Ward is the founder and owner of Hen Corner in Brentford and author of Living the Good Life in the City

Hen Corner is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering discounts on her courses and on her book Living the Good Life in the City.

See her Club Card offers here: Hen Corner Club Card offers

What shall I do about the garden?

Image above: The editor’s back garden in spring 2019

Taking the plunge and going for a makeover

Five years ago I decided I needed to do something about my garden. I was living on my own, overdue for a hip operation and really couldn’t be bothered with it, certainly not mowing the lawn. With a garden the width of your average terraced Victorian house, the bushes on either side virtually met in the middle in the summer, forming a cool, dark, miniature glade, dubbed ‘the Secret Garden’ by my daughter’s friend.

The cats loved it, but I fear it may have been frowned upon by the neighbours, though they never said anything. I decided it was time for a couple of blokes to come round with a chainsaw and a shovel. When they removed the bushes which had really been too big for such a small garden, casting the neighbours’ space into deep shadow, I realised they had been holding up the rotting fences. Those went on the bonfire too and I was left with what suddenly appeared to be quite a big open space, with a just couple of remaining treasured ferns and roses.

Image above: The back garden in spring 2023

Working with an expert plantswoman

This was the beginning of a friendship with Aila Cinar, an international garden designer with over 30 years’ experience, who is based in Chiswick. She has steadily built up a portfolio of clients whose gardens she looks after, many of which she has designed from scratch. Her speciality is providing gardens which require little maintenance, with pest and disease free plants which are drought resistant and provide all-year-round interest.

Images above: Aila pruning in a client’s garden; delivering plants with her dog Lamur

She transformed my garden, so it is lovely to sit in or look out on at any time of year, and requires minimal effort on my part to keep it looking nice. There is no boring lawn to bother with, there is a seating area in a sunny spot, a windy path of stepping stones to get there, and the rest is just plants, of varying shapes and sizes, colours an structures which work well together.

She is an expert plantswoman, and as she is fluent in several languages, she knows all the names in all of them, as well as their Latin names. More importantly, she knows where they will look good and thrive, and what will do well next to them. She asked me first of all for a list of my favourite plants and then supplemented my choices with a variety of plants I’d never heard of.

Every now and then I like to mess with her head by planting something she hasn’t pre-approved. Mostly they have stayed in situ, and she has had the good grace to say she even likes some of them.

Image above: All year round interest

Setting up business with knowledge gleaned from Lapland, Berlin, Greenwich, Kent and the Loire Valley

Where did she get her encyclopedic knowledge of plants?

“I studied garden design for five years at the University of Greenwich and at Hadlow, a small agricultural college in Kent which specialises in horticulture”.

She grew up in Lapland, where there are 0.2 people per square kilometre. Her village had eight houses and the nearest shop was 40km away.

“We had one ornamental plant in front of the house, a Monkshood”. Everything else around was wild.

“I could run free in the forest and I spent a lot of time on my own as a child immersed in plants”.

If I am making her sound like Gerda in The Snow Queen, it is just that her upbringing explains her affinity with plants.

Through an international student exchange she was able to study landscape architecture in Berlin; she had industrial placements at a botanical gardens in Finland and in the gardens of the Villandry Chateau in France, so she knows the history of European gardens and understands how formal gardens work too.

Image above: Aila’s own back garden, which doubles as her nursery

“Most of the year in London we don’t use the garden; we sit inside and look out at it … you need to create a painting to look out at”

Tractors, diggers and chain saws hold no mystery, she learned soil science, how to run a business, and how to design by computer. Plants are her passion, but flowers not so much. She thinks the English have an obsession with flowers, based on a country garden fantasy, and she does not understand why we don’t appreciate stems and foliage more, which can do as much to provide colour and visual interest as any short lived blooms.

“Most of the year in London we don’t use the garden; we sit inside and look out at it. People do extensions and have huge glass widows; you need to create a painting to look out at.

“Lawns are for kids and football. I try to get rid of lawns, they are not wildlife friendly; a variation of plants gives biodiversity.”

Image above: One of Aila’s lighting designs

Another of her bugbears is our failure to use rainwater properly.

“Rain water harvesting is a big issue. How many home-owners complain about their water bills, but won’t have facilitated the recent rain to feed a tank from their roofs?

Aila’s top recommendations for garden plants which provide all-year-round interest

I asked Aila for her top ten garden plants. It was a little like asking a mother to choose between her children, but we got there (nearly). We got it down to a list of 13.

Corokia

“Corokias are so versatile. They are pest and disease free. You can use it in different ways: clip it into shapes, like topiary, use it with garden lighting; the underside of the leaves are white, so it looks like a cloud at night.”

Abutilon

“Abutilons give you nine months of flowers in lovely bright colours.”

(The picture above was taken in November)

Cercis canadensis 

“It’s a tree which is known as the ‘forest pansy, which gives great autumn colour.”

Muehlenbeckia complexa

“You can use Muehlenbeckia complexa as a climber; you can shape it around a metal structure and make instant topiary; you can trail it down to give ground cover. You can use it in all sorts of different ways, but never put it in the ground because it will spread; always put it in a pot.”

Images above: Iris Chinensis; (L) photograph by Tom Murphy VII; (R) winter foliage

Iris chinensis

“Most people think of flowers when we think of irises, but the chinensis looks like bamboo. It’s evergreen, a metre and a half tall; the foliage is there all year round, looking lush and exotic. I’ve used it all over London because it works, although it only flowers for three weeks in early summer.”

Garrya elliptica

“This is a nice wall shrub with long catkins, a foot long, in January, when nothing else is growing, and it’s stunning.”

The aptly named ‘silk tassle bush’.

Gingko

“Why I like gingkos is that in Hiroshima they are the only plant that grew back. The have existed since before the last ice age.”

The female plants have horrible smelly fruit, don’t they?

“I met a Chinese woman picking up the fruit in Chiswick. She showed me how to peel away the flesh and roast the nut. The Chinese believe it increases the flow of blood to the brain and if you eat the nuts you will live longer.”

Dicksonia antarctica – tree fern

“New Zealand tree ferns only grow 30cams in ten years. They don’t need roots because they take their moisture from the air through their trunks, so they don’t take up much space in the ground.”

Aspidistra elatioris

Aspidistra is a genus of flowering plants native to eastern and southeastern Asia, particularly China and Vietnam. They grow in shade under trees and shrubs, their leaves coming more or less directly from ground level.

Aila learned something from me about aspidistras – that the Edwardians were fond of them and George Orwell had written a famous novel called Keep the Aspidistra Flying. I learned else something from her – that the Germans called them ‘Schuster palme’, or ‘shoemakers’ plants, as shoemakers tended to work in dark spaces and you can put aspidistras in the darkest part of your garden and they will survive.

Equisetum – ‘Horsetail’

“These also date back to before the last ice age. They were dinosaur food. I love the simple vertical structure of it, especially against a red wall.”

Hydrangea quercifolia

“This is the oakleaf hydrangea. This one comes from the Chateau de Chaumont in the Loire Valley, where the first garden festival was held, older than the Chelsea Festival.”

Mondo grass

Here we have to agree to disagree. Aila likes the plants because they give all year round colour other than green, and they form thick clumps of ground cover. I just think they look like spiders.

Tulips

Favourite flower? The tulip, which I don’t think needs further introduction or explanation.

Aila’s landscape gardening company, Ailand, is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme. See her current offer on landscaping and garden maintenance here:

Gardens by Aila Cinar – Club Card offers

She welcomes visitors to her garden, where she keeps a variety of quite rare plants,and you can say hello at her stall at the monthly flower market in Chiswick High Road on the first Sunday of the month.

Image above: Aila and her daughter at the Chiswick Flower Market

Contact

Aila Cinar
Tel: 07990 574476
Email: aila@ailand.co.uk
ailand.co.uk

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Luxury family holidays Sirocco style

Image above: Bali, Indonesia

Sirocco travel, based in Grove Park, launch their 2024 family brochure

How do you approach planning a holiday? Are you someone who enjoys doing the research, reading up on where you fancy going and hunting down comparative prices? Or would you prefer that someone else just did all that, you said what you were looking for and just picked up the tickets and went?

Maybe you are by nature group A, but with a busy work and family life you now find yourself in group B? You might assume that getting someone else to do all the donkey work would add too much to the price of a holiday to contemplate it, but that is where you would be wrong.

Temple World, recently rebranded as Sirocco travel, based in Chiswick, make their money in payments from hoteliers and accommodation owners; they make no charge to holidaymakers for their services. They specialise in luxury travel (four-star accommodation and above) and have just brought out their 2024 family brochure.

We talked to Alice Burns, the owner, about what is available for families looking for an adventure, or just a special break.

Image above: South Africa; photograph Tourism South Africa

Q: What are the kind of questions you are asked routinely about family travel?

A: The kind of questions we get most often are: ‘Are my children too young for this type of holiday?’ And: ‘How can we avoid being hassled?’

Q: What advice do you give?

All the places in the brochure are places we have been to, except Japan (but we have successfully sent many families there). All of our small team are very experienced in the travel business, and we have children ourselves, so we have been able to gauge for ourselves what is suitable for what age. We offer as much or as little advice as you want – on accommodation and flights, day trips, places to visit and things to do while you’re there.

The main thing with family travel is to look at the pace of the trip, not to overdo it and try and pack too much in. If you’re going to a museum in the morning, then make the afternoon a pool or a beach session. Because we’ve been there ourselves, we know how long it’s likely to take to get somewhere, when is the best time to go, and how long you will need to spend there with children of different ages.

Images above: Jordan; Egypt; photographs Alice Burns

Q: Which locations do you offer?

We have 16 suggested itineraries, in addition to six beach destinations, depending on whether you are looking for culture (Vietnam, Japan, Rajastan, Jordan) or wildlife (Borneo, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Madagascar) or the ‘Best of Both Worlds’ – a mix of beach and wildlife or beach and culture. Or just beach (Maldives, Dubai, Mauritius, Greek islands and mainland).

Image above: Children on safari in South Africa; photograph Phinda Game Reserve

Q: What makes these trips special (apart from the obvious: scenery, luxury accommodation and good food)?

We look for things to do with children of all ages which will engage their interest.

There is a tour of the Acropolis in Athens which provides children with ipads, so they can stand and look at it and hold up the ipad to see a picture of what that same view would have looked like in ancient times.

We look for cookery classes on all our tours. Fussy kids who are a pain in the neck with foreign food are so much more likely to enjoy the food if they have made it themselves.

In Peru we arrange rafting trips. You do all the cultural stuff in the sacred valley, but you also get to go rafting on the river as well, which can be anything from scenic floating, to grade four or five (serious) rafting.

In Rome you can go to gladiator school; in Japan you can experience samurai and sushi.

Q: Where is the trendy place to go at the moment?

Japan is currently the top of the bucket list. But Japan is expensive. There are all sorts of activities on offer for children, from go-karting dressed as Mario for younger kids to specialist Matcha tea cafés for teenagers with Instagram accounts who want to post pictures of ‘cream art’ made with foam.

In Japan we offer a bare bones package of bullet train and accommodation bookings, leaving the rest to you as a more DIY approach, just supplying the information. Private guides are very expensive in Japan, whereas in most other places we go to, we are able to offer local guides. Sri Lanka for example, you are accompanied by a guide and a driver every step of the way.

Image above: Vietnam

Q: Which of these holidays have you done yourself?

There are four of us in the office and most of these places, one of us has either lived there or been to many times. My children Luke (14), Joe (12) and Zoe (9) have been with me to Egypt, Jordan, Thailand, Oman and Sri Lanka.

One of our team has just been to the Maldives with a new baby and stayed in a bungalow with an infinity pool and a sheer drop. It was all set up with baby gates and she said it was “epic”.

Image above: Maldives

Q: How much are you able to customise trips to the needs of individuals?

As much or as little as you want. The Maldives is a good example. Each island has a very different feel. Some are very glamorous and Instagrammable; some are more family friendly and really lean into it. There are a couple that are really loud, with a festival vibe, with stilt walkers and fire eaters, and others that are better for a peaceful stay, better for an eco holiday and seeing the marine life.

There are about 200 islands, and we find we can narrow the choice down to what would suit you best with just five or six questions.

Image above: Cambodia, Angkor

Q: What happens when things go wrong?

We are ATOL bonded, so if we closed down tomorrow, ATOL would give our clients 100% money back. We’ve been working with ATOL for decades.

Sirocco is a new brand, but we have been here a long time. The fact that we are all so experienced (I have been doing this now for several decades myself) helped a lot during Covid. Everyone had a cash refund, there were no credit notes.

We are local, in Grove Park. You can have my mobile number or knock on my door. The difference with a company like ours is that we absolutely rely on our reputation. We rely on referrals, and we pride ourselves on our level of service, whereas the big companies have a certain percentage they are prepared to lose.

What you want is someone who with one phone call will sort everything out for you. One of our clients rang me to cancel his trip to Thailand because his wife had pneumonia. When something like that happens, you don’t want to be hanging on the phone for hours trying to get through to the right person to cancel things. We had one two-minute call and we got the money back from the insurers for him within 24 hours.

Image above: Sirocco 2024 Family brochure

Have a look at Sirocco luxury travel 2024 family holiday brochure here: Sirocco family holidays 

Contact Alice and the team on 0208 940 4114

siroccoluxurytravel.com

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