Magical Lantern festival opens

The Chinese Lantern Festival has opened in the grounds of Chiswick House. I love the mix - a bit of Christian tradition, a bit of Chinese with a pinch of Hans Anderson and a dash of Disney. Thoroughly recommended, with or without kids. As much fun whether you're going as a prelude to a few beers on a night out or as a place to take visiting family here for Christmas. As you follow the marked path through

Outrage over pop up Christmas tree vendor

Pines & Needles has appeared on Acton Green Common, to the great annoyance of local trader Spencer Wheeler. Spencer runs Wheelers Garden Centre, tucked away beside Turnham Green tube station. Most of their trade at this time of year is in Christmas trees. He is 'disgusted' that Ealing council has allowed them to set up for just four weeks, creaming off some of the Christmas trade which helps local businesses like Wheelers and High Rd fruit and veg stall holders Collins to survive in Chiswick the rest of the year. Support local businesses 'We need this month to struggle through January and February' says Spencer. 'I don't think it's fair that the council allows them to be here for just four weeks while we have to battle on, paying business rates and so on'. He plans to write

Chiswick artist wins National Open Art award

'Church', oil on linen, Marguerite Horner, 2017   Chiswick artist Marguerite Horner has won an award in the 2017 National Open Art competition for one of a series of paintings she made after a visit to the Calais Jungle refugee camp in 2014. She won the themed category sponsored by MS Amlin insurance company for depicting ‘Continuity in an Uncertain World’ for her painting of the makeshift church built by Eritreans there. Marguerite went to the Calais Jungle in 2014 with a group organised by the Comboni nuns, who are based on Chiswick Lane. They needed a driver and she had a car. She took lots of photographs and later decided to paint the experience for a one woman show earlier this year in Westminster called 'Keep Me Safe'. Lifting 'the ordinary into the extraord

Vole Patrol

I am not a rat There are many types of small mammal living happily in Gunnersbury Triangle. The National Lottery funded 'Vole Patrol', an 18 month survey by volunteers to find out which species were alive and well in suburban woodland and more about how they lived. Among the sites surveyed was Gunnersbury Triangle. The survey found high numbers of wood mice and bank vole, as well as smaller populations of common shrew, pygmy shrew, yellow-necked mouse, and field vole. Ben Steel went to Gunnersbury Triangle's autumn open day to meet some of the conservationists and volunteers. Though of course when he went in broad daylight there wa

A tale of two sports clubs

A major upgrade in sporting facilities at Dukes Meadows is being proposed by Hounslow Council. The proposals are open for public consultation until Monday 27 November and we are invited to have a look at them and give our opinions. I've been to see the display at Chiswick Town Hall and had a look online and it all looks lovely. But to paraphrase the former US Secretary of State for Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the trouble with anything hypothetical like this is that there are 'the known knowns', the 'known unknowns', but there are also 'unknown unknowns' which have led Chiswick Rugby Club to support the proposals but the Old Meadownian Football Club not to at this stage. Although the plans have come from the London Borough of Hounslow and consultants Continuum, the money for all this is

Ginger Whisk joins Abundance London to make chutney

What could be better? A cooking school which likes to use local seasonal produce and a charity which seeks to make good use of fruit that if not picked by their volunteers would go to waste? Ginger Whisk and Abundance London are a marriage made in heaven and they got together last month to make chutneys and preserves in a free community day.

New Remembrance exhibition at St Michael & All Angels

A new exhibition commemorating servicemen from Chiswick who died in World War 1 opens today in St Michael & All Angels Church, Bedford Park. A Choral Requiem Mass will be held in the church at 9.45am on Remembrance Sunday November 12th, followed by a procession to the war memorial outside the Parish Hall. Those remembered in the exhibition include Commander Walter Sterndale Bennett, RNVR, DSO and Bar, who died of his wounds 100 years ago today, November 7th, in 1917. Another whose life is being commemorated is Lieutenant Arthur Nixon of the Royal Flying Corps who was killed a month after his wedding at St Micha

The Monstrous Regiment marches to a new drum beat

Are there any two words on the internet more sinister than ‘Hello dear’? I made the mistake on Twitter of following this very attractive young man purporting to be from New York, whose Twitter description actually said ‘I’m a really nice guy’. Now usually, in my limited experience of social media, you follow somebody and you never hear from them again. They may show their appreciation of your wit and wisdom occasionally by liking what you write. They may take issue with you on some point or other. But when this guy just contacted me with ‘Hello dear’ followed by ‘Are you there, hun?’ it really gave me the willies. My Twitter handle @Chiswick_Bridge didn’t give him my name but if he’s really from New York he’s not going to want tickets to Jazz at George IV or my opin

Rediscover your inner ballerina

Before founding the unique Ballet4Life dance organisation 14 years ago in Chiswick, founder Donna Schoenherr’s dance and choreography career had taken her on an international journey. First treading the boards as a child in her native city of New York with the Festival Ballet of New York, Donna went on to train, dance, choreograph and teach across the globe. Donna’s formative training took place at the prestigious Botsford School in Rochester, New York, where she trained in classical ballet technique, pointe, ballet mime, folk dance, advanced ballroom dance and more. She went on to dance with the Clevela

EFG London Jazz Festival

The legendary Bull's Head, sometimes called the 'suburban Ronnie Scott's' by the river in Barnes is fast approaching its 58th anniversary. Named as one of the 12 venues which had made the most important contribution to live jazz in the UK, the renovated Jazz Room has a unique ambiance where the stage and the audience share a special intimacy. Among some of the world's famous names to have played at the Bull are Coleman Hawkins, Alan Price, Tubby Hayes, Blossom Dearie, Jamie Cullum, Stan Tracey, Jimmy Witherspoon, Mick Jagger, Shakatak, Claire Martin, Jim Mullen, Alan Barnes, James Torme, Maggie Bell, Peter King, Art Themen, Mari Wilson, Sarah Jane Morris, Barb Jungr and Antonio Forcione to name just a few. Still putting on live music 7 days a week, the Bull's Head's rich musical herit

Formal consultation ends on Cycle Superhighway

The last day of the formal consultation period for comments on CS9 is Tuesday 31 October 2017. This despite the fact that local councillors in Chiswick and Hammersmith have asked for an extension, as have Chiswick High Rd traders at a meeting with Ruth Cadbury MP last Thursday. This despite the fact also that TfL don't yet have the results of the Environmental Impact survey they commissioned, so they aren't able to tell us what the environmental impact of their proposals might be. I have been trying to find out when TfL expect to get the result of the Environmental Impact survey because it seems to me that is vital information that we need in order to make up our minds as to whether CS9 will deliver the positive outcomes TfL hope it will. No joy as yet. Traders' consultation 'deeply u

Strand on the Green gets another blue plaque

The actor Donald Pleasance has joined artist Johann Zoffany among the riverside dwellers of Strand on the Green to be honoured by a blue plaque. Donald Pleasance starred in TV series in the 1950s such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and Danger Man and graduated to film roles such as Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in You Only Live Twice and Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler in The Eagle Has Landed. He lived in the cottages beside the Bull's Head from the late '60s until 1985. His best known role was perhaps that of Flight Lieutenant Colin Blythe, the prisoner whose job it was to forge the escapees' German papers and is determined to escape himself despite the fact that he's nearly blind. In real life he did actually serve in Bomber Command and was shot down and taken prisoner, but not at S

Grasping at straws

I mentioned last week that Paul Hyman, founder of Active 360, the Paddleboarding company at Kew Bridge, has written to Steve Curran, leader of Hounslow Council, to ask him to use his influence with Hounslow Highways to empty the bins by the river more regularly, because when the bins are full people dump their rubbish beside them and he says, a lot of it ends up in the water. He also wrote to Fullers to ask them if they would stop using plastic straws in riverside pubs and maybe consider a deposit on returned plastic glasses. Their head of Corporate Affairs Georgina Wald replied, saying they use glass rather than plastic where they can. "You’ll be pleased to know that we are already looking at the plastic straw issue. A member of my team shares your concerns in this matter and has bee

Chiswick Book Festival

The ninth Chiswick Book Festival opens on Thursday 14 September with An Evening with Jane Austen at Chiswick House, the same day that the £10 note with her picture on it is published, celebrating 200 years of her life and work. Imogen Stubbs, who played Lucy Steele in the award-winning film Sense & Sensibility, will read extracts from Austen chosen by the event’s other speakers, Paula Byrne (The Genius of Jane Austen), Helena Kelly (Jane Austen: The Secret Radical) and Dr Esme Whittaker, the curator of Chiswick House. To see Helena Kelly talking to me about her book, in which she explains why she thinks Jane Austen was more of a radical than we have given her credit for, watch the video below.

“I think all the presenters will be asked to take pay cuts” says Jeremy Vine

The BBC's highest paid journalist, Jeremy Vine, thinks that BBC presenters will be asked to take pay cuts as a result of the summer's row about the gender gap in pay at the BBC. Jeremy is appearing at the Chiswick Book Festival next weekend and talked to me about his book 'What I learnt' and about the decision by BBC Director General Tony Hall to commission Price Waterhouse Cooper to carry out an equal pay audit. "I think all the presenters will probably be asked to take pay cuts" he said. "That's probably what's going to happen. It seems to me a logical outcome". Tony Hall announced the pay review last week. In July it was revealed that while Claudia Winkleman is the highest female presenter, earning between £450,000 and £500,000 last year, the highest paid male presenter Chris Evans

The Curve rears its ugly head again

The developer of the Chiswick Curve has announced that it is appealing against the London Borough of Hounslow's refusal to grant planning permission for a 32 storey tower and three enormous digital advertising hoardings at Chiswick roundabout. Residents in Chiswick thought they’d seen off the tower block threat when Hounslow Council Planning Committee turned it down unanimously in January on the advice of their planning officials. Now the fight will have to begin all over again if the council is to win its case. Public Inquiry It’s not yet known on what grounds the developers are appealing. West Chiswick & Gunnersbury Society, who have been leading the opposition to the Curve, has been taken somewhat by surprise by the appeal, as they thought the developer would make

Meet the Chiswick in Pictures artists

Chiswick in Pictures

I have spent a happy few days drawing squares and rectangles on graph paper, cutting them out and incessantly rearranging them. Why? Because The Chiswick Calendar is organising an exhibition. Since its inception our website has featured the work of local photographers and artists with a different picture of Chiswick on the home page each day and for the best part of three years I’ve been thinking about drawing some of that work together for people to see on display. With the collaboration of the Clayton Hotel Chiswick this idea is now coming to fruition. Called ‘Chiswick in Pictures’ the exhibition will run from Thursday 7 September until Saturday 28 October at the Clayton Hotel Chiswick, 626 Chiswick High Rd, W4 5RY and will feature the work of 16 local artists and photographe

Get out of your cars and pedal your bikes!

Guest blog by Ruth Mayorcas Even small increases in physical activity among those who are the least active can bring great health benefits. As the former Chief Medical Officer noted: "The potential benefits of physical activity to health are huge. If medication existed which had a similar effect, it would be regarded as a 'wonder drug' or miracle cure". Cycling not cyclist I gave a short presentation to the Chiswick Area Forum a couple weeks ago at which I called on the Councillors to support measures which are to be introduced by both the Local Council and the GLA to improve the Air Quality and the Street Scene in Chiswick. This is how I prefaced it. Air Pollution in Chiswick We know that Air Pollution is at an all-time high in the London Borough of Houn

Inspiring Women at Chiswick Book Festival

On the day Jane Austen appears on the new £10 note in September, marking 200 years since her death, the Chiswick Book Festival will open, presenting many inspiring women speakers on a wide range of subjects. Clare Balding, Jo Malone, Maggie O'Farrell, Sarah Outen, Martine Wright and many others will be speaking, and there will also be timely sessions on Austen herself and Queen Victoria. Tickets for the Festival are now on sale at, where the full programme is available. The life and work of Jane Austen will be celebrated at the Festival's opening event on Thursday September 14th in the glorious surroundings of Chiswick House & Gardens, with the House’s curat

The worm has turned – at last!

I’ve never understood why the gender pay gap persists after the Equality Pay Act of 1970 and the Equality Act of 2010. Presumably there are ways round the law but on the face of it you would think that the 40 + women presenters at the BBC who have written to Director General Tony Hall to complain of the unfair disparity between their pay and that of their male colleagues would have a strong case for suing the corporation on the grounds of discrimination. Jane Garvey, one of the presenters of Woman’s Hour, was all for doing just that but already they have compromised by sending an utterly reasonable letter urging him to "correct this disparity" over pay now rather than waiting until his target of 2020, instead of dispatching a lawyer’s writ. "We all want to go on the record to call

Who even has a woodpile these days?

We spent a happy weekend promoting The Chiswick Calendar and the Club Card at the summer party at Chiswick Village on Saturday and the Party on the Pier at Corney Reach on Sunday, both lovely, fun community events (a dads’ sack race with pillow cases is always a winner). Taking down people’s names and email addresses makes you realise how fully global our London population is. It’s not just that people come from other places, their own heritage is mixed: “It’s a Moroccan name, I’ll spell it for you, but I use my maiden name Cox for my email address … or maybe I’ll give you my business address… That’s Spanish” … “It’s Swedish … Japanese … Sri Lankan.” It just makes you all the more incredulous that an MP – a Member of Parliament – could be such a Nea

Majority of Chiswick councillors not standing for re-election

Five out of nine of Chiswick’s Conservative councillors will not be standing for re-election in the local elections next year, with a question mark over a sixth, Robert Oulds, who has been booted out by Chiswick Homefields, the ward he has represented for fifteen years. After next May the only familiar faces will be Sam Hearn, Gerald McGregor and John Todd. Robert Oulds may put himself forward for selection in the Turnham Green ward. In Chiswick all the current councillors are Conservative. With the exception of two Conservative councillors in Osterley and Spring Grove and one councillor whose political allegiance is 'unspecif

We have progress on the Chiswick Timeline, the big mural at Turnham Green!

Guest blog by Karen Liebreich We have sign-off on the structural stuff… When we started this project we naively assumed that the mural would somehow be simply pegged onto the walls by some unspecified but of course very cheap and simple method. It turns out – unsurprisingly in retrospect – that as each metal panel (2.5m x 2.85m) is made of mild steel and weighs 65kg, and there are 41 of them in total, they need some serious framework to hold them on. We are talking serious to the tune of about £18,000-worth - thank you all you donors! There has been much clever discussion (in which we did not participate but merely nodded wisely, if vaguely) about resin anchored studs, elasticity, momentums of resistance, steel welded gusset plates, composite sleeves, and so fort

Do you fancy being a patron?

Chiswick House is looking for “Summer Parlour Patrons” Chiswick House & Gardens Trust has recently taken over the running of the Grade 1 listed house and needs the wherewithal to run it as well as the magnificently restored 18th Century Gardens, created by Lord Burlington and William Kent and managed now by Geraldine King and her staff with a posse of volunteers. We rather take for granted the freedom to roam the award winning 65 acre estate from 7.00 am until dusk every day for free and appreciate the lake, the classic bridge, the cascade, the Italian Garden, the Orange Tree Garden and so forth, but keeping it looking so good costs money. The Trust is pleased to announce that they will be opening the house and holding more events there. I went to ‘Light Divine, Night

Cultivate London would like you to be their Friend

Cocktails and canapes in the Salopian Garden What nicer way to spend a summer's evening than consuming cocktails and canapes at the Salopian Garden in Isleworth. Owned by the National Trust and run by Cultivate London, the garden is a recently restored community and training space. Cultivate London is an innovative social enterprise which trains unemployed young people in landscaping and horticulture, and works to engage west London in growing our own food. The history of the Salopian Garden itself is interesting as it is named after the popular 18th century drink made from orchid roots which used to be served when the site was a carriage staging post along the London Road. The last private owner of the house, Miss June Temple, died in 2004 and left her property – a sm

The culmination of four years’ work

Saturday 1 July 2017 was a red letter day in the Osborne household. When not editing The Chiswick Calendar website or Out & About magazine, I’ve been working on a TV series - The History of Africa with Zeinab Badawi – the first of which was transmitted this weekend on BBC World. It’s a history of Africa with a difference, as it is told from an African perspective. That should not be so remarkable, but until the 1960s Africa’s history had been told largely by European historians, if indeed it had been told at all. Hugh Trevor Roper, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, famously announced that Africa had no history prior to European exploration and colonisation. He said "there is only the history of Europeans in Africa. The rest is dark

The Labour party’s shortest lived housing spokesperson?

Did she jump or was she pushed? Pushed by all accounts, but it came as no surprise to Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford & Isleworth that she should be sacked by Jeremy Corbyn for supporting Chuka Umunna's amendment to the Queen's Speech, which called for the UK to stay in the single market after Brexit. "I had no doubt that I had to support the amendment moved by Labour colleagues with cross-party support today. The amendment ruled out withdrawing from the EU without a deal, sought a Parliamentary vote on the final negotiations and proposed to remaining in the Customs Union and Single Market. Only then can we protect jobs, trade and certainty for business, as well as protecting the rights of EU citizens, with reciprocal rights for UK citizens. This is a point of principle for me and I

Sainsbury’s ‘Fairly Traded’ brand slammed by Fairtrade Foundation

Sainsbury’s is launching its own ‘Fairly Traded’ brand this month and the Fairtrade Foundation is not happy. The leading supermarket chain is describing its own-brand tea as “Fairly Traded”, but that is not the same thing as Fairtrade tea at all. Fairtrade was launched in 1992 by a group of organisations including CAFOD, Christian Aid and Oxfam to work with businesses, consumers and campaigners to connect disadvantaged food producers in the developing world with consumers, to promote fairer trading conditions and empower the producers to combat poverty. It is well supported in Chiswick by the Chiswick Churches for Justice and Peace group, amongst others. Key to their vision is the idea of empowerment – that they are enabling farmers to take more control over their lives b

Chiswick’s Polish Ant & Dec

Anyone who gets a morning train to Waterloo from Chiswick station cannot fail to have noticed Damian and Kris, who run a coffee cart at the station entrance, selling what might just be the best coffee in Chiswick (Italian blend Bristot, with beans from Brazil and Guatemala), and pastries from 6.30am – 12.00pm Monday to Friday. It’s their unfailing cheerfulness and courtesy which make them stand out, as well as the quality of their coffee. Like a Polish Ant & Dec, they keep up a constant happy banter – “How was your weekend? What great weather. Have a good day …” Like the Geordie duo, their patter is professional but you also get the sense that they’re genuinely nice guys who like people and want to spread a little sunshine. Damian says: “We're some of the first peopl