Chiswick In Pictures exhibition

Come and see the work of some of Chiswick's best artists all together under one roof. The Chiswick Calendar is organising another of our periodic exhibitions of pictures, celebrating the wealth of artistic talent in Chiswick and seeing the place where we live through their eyes. From Monday 10 September until Saturday 27 October, 18 professional artists who live locally will be showing their pictures of Chiswick in the atrium of the Clayton Hotel Chiswick at 626 Chiswick High Rd, W4 5RY. Among the artists taking part are Jon Perry and Anna Kunst, whose photography is regularly seen on the pages of The Chiswick Calendar website Also taking part are digital artists Keith Davidson and Rennie Pilgrem and print maker Rachel Busch, whose latest work focuses on

Meeting Anthony Horowitz

I had the pleasure of meeting Anthony Horowitz this week, to do a video interview with him for the Chiswick Book Festival. I first came across him through his children's books, delightfully scary stories such as Groosham Grange and Granny, then his teenage fiction, the Alex Rider series, with a hero who could easily be the young James Bond, though set in a different era. His writing is fast paced and funny; his characters larger than life, and with some 40 books under his belt as well as TV and film scripts for well-known titles such as Foyles War and Midsummer Murders, not to mention all his journalism and theatre work, who better to write the prequel to Ian Fleming's James Bond series? The Fleming estate has asked several authors to continue the James Bond oeuvre. Kingsley Amis, Wi

WW1 – How Chiswick fared in the Great War

WW1 - How Chiswick fared in the Great War Local historian John H Grigg has researched the history of the First World War and how it affected Chiswick and the neighbouring areas and collated his material into a book: 'All Quiet in the Western Suburbs' published in August 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the end of the war. John spent years painstakingly going through the archives in the local libraries for articles in the local press. Most of the accounts published were letters from soldiers at the front. The following is taken from the first chapter of the book, which you can buy for £14.99 direct from John if you contact him by email at: John.Grigg535@bti

Good books to read this summer – All Quiet in the Western Suburbs by John H Grigg

Imagine being stuck in Belgium in charge of a bunch of boy scouts when war breaks out. Such was the predicament of Chiswick’s District Scoutmaster Mr H.S. Martin in August 1914. He managed to get the camp packed up and the boys on the boat train from Brussels to Ostend; ‘there was pandemonium in Brussels where shops were closing and soldiers were commandeering every available horse;’ but when they arrived at Ostend the connecting boat already had 1,400 passengers aboard and left without them. They slept overnight on the quay and waited for the next boat, which came at 08.30 the following day. They were among 2,000 waiting for it; ‘soldiers with fixed bayonets were sent down but the crowd was too great for them … the fights were indescribable but the deck was eventually reached a

Good books to read this summer – The Killing of Butterfly Joe by Rhidian Brook

‘The Killing of Butterfly Joe’ by Rhidian Jones is a road trip book set in 1987; ‘a love letter to the America I experienced’ says the author, evoking the spirit of a different time and revisiting his ’23 year old, hedonistic, slightly selfish’ self. Rhidian, who lives in Barnes, is TV and film script writer (Silent Witness, Africa United) whose first novel ‘The Testimony Of Taliesin Jones’ won the 1997 Somerset Maugham Award and was subsequently made into a film starring Jonathan Pryce and Ian Bannen. His book ‘The Aftermath’, based on his grandfather's experiences in postwar Germany, has also been made into a film, starring Keira Knightley, which is due for release next March. ‘The Killing of Butterfly Joe’ is ab

Are you paying over the odds for service charges?

Last week's story about a group of leaseholders in Chiswick whose landlords were ordered by the London Residential Property, First Tier Tribunal to pay them back £48,000 in unreasonable service charges has inspired other leaseholders in Chiswick to get in touch. Tara Doyle, who represented the leaseholders at the tribunal, is keen to help other in a similar situation, as she now has a certain amount of knowledge about the legal process and is happy to pass it on. Several people have got in touch with us through our email address: and we have passed these emails on to her. Time perhaps for a Chiswick leaseholders' association to share the pain? You can read about

Save Our High Rd

It is becoming a depressingly familiar refrain. Each week it seems like we hear another business on Chiswick High Rd has closed. Last week there were two: George’s Diner and Jackson and Rye; one an independent seafood restaurant run by the chef, only opened ten months ago, the other part of a chain under the umbrella of Cote Brasserie, which owns more than a hundred restaurants nationally. It’s hard to run a retail business successfully. If you look at the recent turnover in Devonshire Rd alone: Whisk, Classic Image Cafe, London Zu, Canta Napoli, Abode, Bagista, Cardamom, Quantus, The Parlour, Vape Emporium, that shows how difficult it must be. But the fact that stores like Fat Face, White Stuff and Oddbins and restaurant chains like Foxlow and Carluccio’s have also closed their b

The Prudential Ride London, or The Joy of Cycling in a Wet Nappy

Guest blog by Rosie Leyden Six weeks of beautiful sunshine and hot weather. Perfect weather for me to do the Prudential Ride London 46-mile bike ride on Sunday 29th. What could go wrong? Well, the weather could change dramatically, and it did. The 100-mile ride goes from the Olympic Village across London, over Chiswick Bridge, down through the Surrey Hills, up and down Box Hill and back through London to The Mall. The 46-mile one does the same but closes the loop at Hampton Court. The weather forecast for the day was grim – winds of up to 25mph and heavy rain. I stood forlornly at the Olympic Village starting point for an hour with my bike – and 30,000 other cyclists – in rain and wind, getting colder and wetter. Finally we set off. So much better to be riding than st

Chiswick councillors set up High Rd shops task force

With about 20 empty shops in central Chiswick and more businesses set to close, Chiswick is at risk of becoming a clone town or a ghost town say councillors Three Chiswick councillors, one from each ward incorporating Chiswick, have set up a task force to tackle the crisis facing independent shops. Councillors Joanna Biddolph (Turnham Green), Patrick Barr (Homefields) and Gabriella Giles (Riverside) are working together with Chiswick traders to support our existing local shops; help address the decline in the number of independent shops in Chiswick; and reduce the number of new shops that set up only to fail. The campaign is about four things: 1. influencing policy makers, nationally and locally, to ensure that policies support, rather than hinder, our independent retailer

Fire Brigade cut woman from a car in Chiswick

The emergency services have been busy in Chiswick over the weekend. There were two fire engines, an ambulance and several police cars in attendance on an accident on South Parade on Friday afternoon, with the road closed off while the Fire Brigade cut the roof and door off a car to give paramedics access to a woman who had injured her neck in a collision with a double decker bus. Then on Sunday evening Chiswick Lifeboat was called to a report of an injured cyclist at Strand-on-the-Green near the Bull’s Head pub. On arrival they found that a woman on the foreshore had fallen two metres from the riverside path. Chiswick lifeboat crew treated the cyclist for a head injury. Working with London Ambulance service paramedics the lifeboat crew transferred her onto a stretcher so she could

Simon Reilly celebrates ten years at the Tabard

The Tabard theatre is full of surprises. First of all that it’s there at all. Not every London suburb has its own bijou (100 seat) theatre, and secondly that the productions are consistently so good and so varied for such a small, local theatre. One minute you see that Phyllis Logan (Downton Abbey) and Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean) are there being interviewed about their careers in theatre by their son, or that Alan Alda has popped over from Hollywood for the European premier of a play he’s written. The next they’re putting on a production by a young playwright making their debut with a cast fresh out of drama school. The mix of productions and the quality threshold is largely down to the energy and talent of Tabard Managing Director Simon Reilly, who celebrates ten

‘Cancel the rest of your life’ new councillors told

Guest blog by Cllr Joanna Biddolph “What’s your office like? Have you set it up yet?” asked a resident not long after the election. My answer surprised him. Councillors don’t have their own offices. We do have a group office – an odd cobbling together of spaces that lead into each other haphazardly, one a meeting room; another with two sofas, a fridge, a kettle and a patch of desk with a computer on it; a third with several comfy chairs, filing cabinets, stacking trays with our names on them, a small room where our group political assistant works and another for privacy. To say they need a woman’s touch is sexist – and impossible. I tried re-arranging the chairs but they wouldn’t budge. It’s unusual for me to give in quickly but I’m resigned to this mismatch

Tribunal tells landlords to repay unreasonable service charges

A group of leaseholders at a property in Chiswick have succeeded in taking their landlords to court for being overcharged service charges. Owners of five flats at Old Timber Court, above McMillan Williams Solicitors in Acton Lane took their management agent Seloc Asset Management, based in Cambridge, to tribunal for overcharging. The London Residential Property, First Tier Tribunal, Property Chamber has instructed Seloc Asset Management to repay £48,000. The company has until 7th August to appeal against the decision. The leader of the residents group, Tara Doyle, says it took courage to go up against the agents, one of whom, Colum Smith, is the Chief Executive Officer of McMillan Williams Solicitors Limited, whose company owns one of the seven flats above. “There were nights when I

Lovebox declared huge cultural success

The Lovebox and Citadel festivals have received rave reviews across the board in everything from the NME to the Daily Telegraph. 'Summertime magic'; 'dazzling headline show' were some of the comments. But some residents have complained about the noise from the festival, the litter left behind and the general inconvenience of it all. Conservative Councillor Joanna Biddolph has now attacked Gunnersbury Park's new management company, demanding a 'shake-up' of the management even though they've only running the park for less than three months. I went to meet the PR for Gunnersbury Park a couple of weeks ago at their new outdoor café. As we sat down to our tea she was accosted by an elderly man demanding to talk to her about the rights of local residents. ‘I’m important’ he said; ‘I

Fantastic line-up of authors for the 10th Chiswick Book Festival

The Chiswick Book Festival celebrates its tenth year in September with a stellar line-up of authors: Anthony Horowitz, Kate Mosse, Joanna Trollope, Max Hastings, Charles Spencer, Charles Cumming, Roger McGough and Julian Clary amongst others. Anthony Horowitz, long known to teenage readers for his Alex Rider spy thrillers, has just published his second James Bond novel using original material by Ian Fleming. Forever and a Day is a prequel to Casino Royale, Fleming’s first 007 novel, and explores the origins of the world’s most famous secret agent. ‘M laid down his pipe and stared at it tetchily. “We have no choice. We’re just going to bring forward this other chap you’ve been preparing. But you didn’t tell me his name.” “It’s Bond, sir,” the Chief of Staff re

Chiswick House Dog Show

Cook Book Festival

Chiswick has a new festival. Running alongside the big book festival, 12-16 September, this little sister festival is the brainchild of Lucy Cufflin, who for the past year has run fabulous cookery courses at Ginger Whisk, off Turnham Green Terrace, and TV cook and writer Jo Pratt. Lucy says there are many food festivals but nothing that really celebrates books about cooking. There have been cookery authors taking part in the Chiswick Book Festival in previous years, but this new departure will involve actually tasting samples of the food under discussion as well. Talks with benefits They too have put together an excellent line-up, a diverse collection of authors, chefs, restaurateurs and food industry experts, in various locations across Chiswick. Among the line-up of world

Sri Lankan curry and Mindfulness

Did you know that Chiswick had one of the oldest Buddhist temples outside Asia? The London Buddhist Vihara was set up by Sri Lankan monk Anagarika Dharmapala in 1926. It moved about a bit but has been at its current premises in Bedford Park for almost 25 years. Every year it holds an Open Day to raise funds for the five monks currently in residence to continue their work teaching Mindfulness and meditaion and the principles of Buddhism. The community prepared an excellent curry for this year's event, last Saturday. You can read about the history of the London Buddhist Vihara and how it came to be in Chiswick in the This Is Chi

Dukes Meadows retains its Green Flag

Dukes Meadows Trust volunteers held an impromptu celebration yesterday after hearing that the park had retained its Green Flag. The award for parks recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces. "Dukes Meadows trust is extremely active on the site for a number of years and has led on the regeneration of the park raising over £1 million to create two high quality play area, one of which they manage." say the organisers. Carol Beauchamp, pictured above, has been a member of the trust from the start 18 years ago. She said; "It has been a great achievement to turn the park from the sad and derelict state it was in 18 years ago, to the lovely park it is today. I feel very proud every time I come here and see all the people enjoying the pool and play area and visiting the ma

My campaign to improve air quality in Chiswick

Guest blog by Mat Smith Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mat, I'm a millennial, and I live in Chiswick. I plan to see Chiswick into the 2080s. Given my age, health, and family history, it's not an unreasonable expectation to be alive in 2080, but why Chiswick? Let me explain. I live with my partner and child in a small but comfortable third floor apartment in an old house overlooking Chiswick High Road. We also run a couple of businesses on the High Road. Like many young families living in Chiswick, we are not from a poor background by any means, nor were we brought up dripping in wealth. During my teens, my family dined-out twice per month (Harvester, Sunday evening, since you asked, and yes I was mad for the bacon bits at the salad bar). And now we're slightly gro

Ten years of the Chiswick Book Festival

For several years, I had discussed launching a Book Festival with Father Kevin Morris, the vicar of St Michael & All Angels. It couldn’t be that hard, we thought! The Bedford Park Festival – Chiswick’s biggest community event - provided a good model. We had the venues – the church and the parish halls. We knew how to find speakers and attract audiences and look after them, using volunteers from St Michael’s and elsewhere. We knew how to sell tickets, attract sponsors and use a Festival to raise money for good causes. We’d built up a good relationship with Waterstone’s in Chiswick High Road and local publishers and publicists – notably Jacks Thomas (then managing director of Midas PR) and her husband Malcolm Edwards (then deputy chairman of Orion), who supplied lot

Chiswick roundabout, gateway to London

Chiswick roundabout is a scruffy, unprepossessing bit of London: a poor introduction to west London for those coming in off the motorway and a dispiriting environment for those who live and work in that corner of Chiswick. Residents groups, the London Borough of Hounslow and developers are all united in the wish to create something there which will cheer the place up a bit. The question is what? The Octopus was seen off. The Citadel was approved by the council but didn’t materialise. What’s wrong with the current proposal, the Curve? Too big, says the Council, the residents groups, English Heritage and Kew Gardens. A landmark building we should be proud of says the developer Starbones. In rhetoric reminiscent of the Peter Sellers sketch about 'Bal-ham, gateway to the south' the d

Freeze house prices, says think tank

The Institute for Public Policy Research is urging the government to freeze house prices. The IPPR says a five year freeze would 'reset' house prices and make housing more affordable, as housing costs would fall in real terms as other prices and wages continued to rise. Under the IPPR's proposals, house prices would be able to rise again 'only after expectations of constantly rising house prices have been 'reset'.' The initiative is part of a wider plan to re-balance the economy away from finance in order to avoid another financial crash. Chiswick already has, thanks They'll be pleased to know that Chiswick is doing its bit. Paul Cooney, Director of sales at Horton & Garton, Chiswick says prices have dropped ten percent over the last 12 months and 12-15% since the EU Refe

Brexit end game begins

Oh joy. As the Editor of Ian Dunt put it yesterday: "I think I preferred it when we were good at diplomacy and shit at football". For him yesterday's political high drama was "fun". The BBC's Laura Kunessberg said at times the Brexit process felt like a bad novel where you got bogged down in too much detail and lost the plot, but now it was like a fast paced political thriller. Very exciting if you're in the thick of it at Westminster, but what might be more helpful is something like a manual or a self help book. The Foreign Secretary and Secretary of State for Exiting the EU resigning is dramatic, I get it. The prospect of the Conservative party in open warfare is entertaining, if you like that sort of t

The circus comes to town

Circus has always been a family tradition for us. We used to go every year to see Zippos when my kids were young, with additional trips to big shows such as the Moscow State Circus and the Chinese State Circus, so I consider myself something of a circus aficionado. I say with some confidence then that Giffords Circus is unique and their 2018 show My Beautiful Circus is really good fun. In the last couple of years Giffords has become a regular fixture in the Chiswick social calendar. Based on a farm in Stroud in Gloucestershire, Chiswick is their only London venue, so we are privileged to have a show which is zany, funny, clever, and beautifully structured and choreographed by Cal McCrystal (whose credits include Iolanthe at The ENO, Paddington, Paddington 2

Last week of the Chiswick Curve Public Inquiry

The Public Inquiry into the proposed development of the Chiswick Curve continues this week and is scheduled to end on Friday 6 July with a closing submission from the developer Starbones. Last week the architect Christophe Egret outlined his vision for the building, causing some mirth among residents who oppose the 32 storey skyscraper when he compared it to the Palm House in Kew Gardens. Describing the way in which he was using curves to create the effect of softening the light and pixillating the edges of the building, he told the Inquiry that comparing the two was ‘a little bit of a jump, but I’m thinking in the same way’. 'A new urban layer' He also made it clear that the Curve would not be standing out on the skyline alone. There would, he said be 'a new urban layer

What actually happens to all that recycling?

There are two types of people in this world - those who put their recycling out efficiently the night before collection and those who are roused from a deep slumber by the smashing of glass bottles, leap out of bed as the realisation dawns that it is recycling day and run out of the house in their pyjamas to try and catch the bin men before they disappear around the corner. Guess which type I am. Mostly I'm a good citizen and try to conform. But is it the end of the world if you put the wrong type of plastic in the box? Why have they taken one item but not another? Because there's an R in the month? Read Karen Liebreich's feature Karen Liebreich (she of the Chiswick Timeline / Abundance London / guerrilla gardening) went to see the recycling facility where the results of

Fullers London Pride backs Pride

It's enough to have Quentin Crisp and Bernard Manning spinning in their graves. Fuller's has announced that it is supporting the other London Pride on 7 July 2018 by becoming the parade’s official beer partner. It's either very clever marketing (if you Google London Pride the top two items are about the parade, with the beer at No.3 so why not capitalise on it?) or a long overdue acknowledgement that it is not only straight men who like a pint and that not all beer drinkers are homophobic, misogynistic geezers. (Some of them are even women!) “For too long beer advertising has been peddling outdated ideas of the male beer drinker and their views" says the campaign's creative director Matt Waller of the ad agency Recipe. The alliance will see central London plastered in 'gay beer a

Open House looking for volunteers

Are you interested in architecture and the built environment? Open House is looking for volunteers.  Open House London is the capital’s largest architecture festival. Attracting thousands of people each year, more than 800 buildings of all types and periods open their doors to the public for free. Some, like Chiswick House, are often open but usually charge an entrance fee. Others are rarely open to the public, so it's a real opportunity to have a look at buildings you wouldn't usually have the chance to see. They're looking for people with 'an interest in or knowledge of architecture, engineering, town planning, or any subject that might be related to the built environment', who can commit to just one morning or afternoon over the weekend of  22 - 23 September to volunteer

What happens to our recycled rubbish?