Summer Exhibition 2021

A year of pandemic – how has Chiswick fared?

Image above: Bell & Crown pub, closed spring 2020; photograph Joanna Raikes It's a year since Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock announced in Parliament that "all unnecessary social contact should cease". He made that announcement on 16 March 2020 and a week later Boris Johnson told the country that people "must" stay at home and that certain businesses must close. The Chiswick Calendar has been talking to people in Chiswick about how their year has been. For some who have lost loved ones it has been a year of tragedy. For some it has been financially disastrous. For others it's just been a boring and depressing time. But people have made the best of it and adapted and are now just hoping that the end of this lockdown is truly irreversible, as the Prime Minis

The roadmap out of lockdown 2021

Image above: Chiswick House Gardens; photograph Jennifer Griffiths March The schools went back on 8 March; colleges have reopened, and university students have returned to practical courses. Care home residents can have one nominated visitor, with testing and social distance precautions. From 29 March We can meet outside with one other household, or in groups of up to six, including in private gardens. The stay at home rule comes to an end, though the Government is still urging people to stay local. Outdoor sport facilities will reopen, including golf courses and tennis and basketball courts, and formally organised outdoor sports can restart. Weddings attended by up to six people can take place in any circumstances. Imag

Remembering those the pandemic has taken – David Stewart

Images above: David Stewart We now know that the number of people who died from Covid-19 in Chiswick between March 2020 and the end of February 2021 is 61. That’s 61 groups of family and friends for whom the pandemic represents rather more than a financial loss or an inconvenience, who have suffered real loss. Local funeral director Oliver Peyton told us how hard people have found it not being able to mourn in the normal way. You can read an interview with him here: READ ALSO: A year of the pandemic. How has Chiswick fared? Here we remember David Stewart, who died in the very early days of the pandemic, leaving his wi

Chiswick’s ‘Concierge Cabbies’

How London's embattled black car drivers are faring after a year of the pandemic It’s been a tough year for many trades. But few have been as badly hit as London’s black cab drivers. With the City shuttered, and travel severely curtailed, their livelihood has all but disappeared. Pictures in the national press last November showed a black cab “graveyard” in a field near Epping Forest, with hundreds of cabs abandoned there. Around the same time, the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) said it believed that only 20 per cent of cabbies were still driving their vehicles. So is the London black cab - already a rare sight on Chiswick High Road - about to become an endangered species? I know of a number of black cab drivers who’ve been forced to give up the trade

Retail: “I’ve never had to work so hard in my life”

Image above: Sally Price at Insider Dealings; photograph Anna Kunst Retailers have had a tough year. Trying to work out whether what they sell is 'essential' or not (flower stalls weren't essential but garden centres were); redesigning their premises to lay out social distancing, refitting them with screens to protect their till staff and customers; closing, opening, closing again ... Most have benefitted from business grants, a hold on business rates and furlough payments, but they've still had to pay a quarter of staff costs, rent and other overheads. We've talked to three Chiswick retailers to see how they've fared. Image above: Insider Dealings, 135 Chiswick High Rd; Interior design scheme Insider Dealings Sally Price, who owns the interior

Young people who started their own business during lockdown

Images above: Rita Kastrati; Olivia and Francesca Johns "We just thought, we have this long summer holiday stretching ahead of us with nothing to do and nowhere to go, so we'd go for it" Francesca and Olivia Johns are 22 and 20 respectively. In the summer of 2020 Francesca graduated from Kings, with a degree in Geography; her sister Olivia had just completed her first year studying Criminology at Oxford Brooks University. Did they spend the summer in pyjamas watching Netflix? No they did not. Well, maybe a little, but mainly they decided to act on an idea they'd been mulling for some years and set up a business together selling soft furnishings. READ MORE:

On being ‘elderly and vulnerable’ in a pandemic

Image above: Rainbow from the window of Barbara's flat It’s a pandem, and all stations panic Text and photogrpahs by Barbara Chandler Today, Tuesday, I will get my second Covid jab, thanks to the admirable enterprise of the local doctors who are selflessly running the large Chiswick vaccination centre. It’s within the 12 week window, with a week to spare. Will it bring some sort of “closure” to this dire year of medical muddle, missing-out and multiple miseries? Here’s hoping – I do feel so much more positive about things now. Looking back, memories, events and unhappystance whiz into the pin-sharp automatic focus of a high-spec digital camera, not necessarily in any particular order. There was the blind cramping fear at the beginning, watch

The Felix Project and Cookbook Kitchen provide basic supplies and simple cooking ideas

Pandemic hits poor Almost 700,000 people in the UK, including 120,000 children, have been plunged into poverty as a result of the Covid economic crisis, according to the thinktank the Legatum Institute. The Institute says it is only the Chancellor's temporary £20-a-week boost to Universal Credit which is stopping a further 700,000 people being in the same position. There are various definitions of 'poverty'; the Institute measures povery using the methodology developed by the independent Social Metrics Commission. They reckon that overall, the pandemic has pushed the total number of people in the UK living in poverty to more than 15 million – 23% of the population. In London poverty is higher than in any other region of the UK, where the costs of living in London are

Clare Balding: I’ve never been at home as much as this

Images above: Torin Douglas; Clare Balding The Boat Race on Easter Sunday will be the first major sporting event Clare Balding has done for the BBC for over a year. Normally jetting all over the world to cover sporting events, she talked about how a year full of lockdowns has been for her, in the first of the 2021 Spring Lectures for The Upper Room. Torin Douglas, Director of the Chiswick Book Festival and former Media Correspondent for the BBC, interviewed her in the online event to raise money for the west London charity which supports people who are homeless. He asked her about how she had spent 2020, about her career and what it was like

Desperate for kittens

Images above: Zeb and Ziggy Lockdown stampede for furry companions sees animal charity swamped by applications Freezing adoption applications for animals in need of a home is not a decision an animal charity takes lightly. But that is what the Covid emergency has forced Hounslow Animal Welfare Society (HAWS) to do. Since the first lockdown, exactly a year ago, they have been swamped with people wanting to adopt cats and kittens. And with the demand for feline companions showing no signs of abating, HAWS has had to call a temporary halt. “It’s a bit of a nightmare,” says HAWS trustee Carol Atkinson. “I even had one (adoption) application from Glasgow. People are desperate to get kittens, in particular.” Some people have told her that they’ve seen kitt

Cancelling Christmas for the love of animals

Image above: Village Vet staff member with a client Lara Waterson, Regional Support Manager at Village Vet, has always known that her colleagues were willing to go the extra mile to help the pets of Chiswick. But it took the Covid-19 emergency to prove just how much they’d be prepared to sacrifice to protect the animals in their care. Village Vet, at 113 Chiswick High Road, has remained open throughout the pandemic, while some other vets’ practices have been forced to close. That’s partly due to its size, and to the stringent PPE regulations the practice has adopted. But it’s also down to personal

Out of lockdown Harriet’s Kitchen was born

Image above: Harriet Benton and Alan Weavis; photograph Anna Kunst Harriet's Kitchen is celebrating its Golden anniversary - measured in weeks, not years that is, as Harriet's Kitchen is a child of 2020 and the first lockdown. Harriet Benton has been a caterer for more than 40 years. With her partner Alan Weavis she built up a very successful business as providing events for a comprehensive mix of clients, from art galleries to five-course sit down meals, to weddings. Harriet and Alan did everything, looking after every detail from the marquee, food & drink to the presentation, and as a result have built up a loyal repeat clientele. When Covid-19 hit in March 20

Zooming with wine bottles: teaching Pilates during Covid

Images above: Ris Widdicombe celebrates the second birthday of the Pilates now! studio, Pilates Now! studio It doesn’t seem long since Ris Widdicombe proudly showed me around her Pilates studio, saying “In a year’s time, this will all be mine!" It was early 2020, and Ris was referring to the top-of-the range Reformer Pilates equipment she’d purchased for her business, Pilates Now! located in the Virgin Active Gym, Chiswick Business Park. Reformer machines use weights and other equipment to intensify your workout, bringing faster results than traditional Pilates mat classes. But such sophisticated machinery doesn’t come cheap - it cost Ris £35,000. She bought it on a three year finance scheme, to be paid off by October 2021. “The studio was going bril

Pandemic one year on – Unexpected silver linings: Ballet classes online

Image above: Donna Schoenherr, founder / owner, Ballet4Life teaching online “I was always very snobbish about doing dance classes online” “I was always very snobbish about doing dance classes online” says founder and owner of Ballet4Life, Donna Schoenherr. “For years people had been asking me to do dance online and I said it couldn’t be done that way”. As it turned out, putting her classes online during the pandemic is what enabled Ballet4Life to survive. Ballet4Life offers dance classes for adults and its sister charity Move Into Wellbeing gives people with restricted movement the opportunity to take part in friendly, fun, classes at a level which suits them. For seventeen years now professional ballet dancer Donna has been offering classes acr

Setting up a business in lockdown: Rita Kastrati – Bea’s Flowers London

Images above: Rita Kastrati; Rita and her mother Bea Bea's Flowers London Rita Kastrati, 21, graduated in the summer of 2020 with a degree in International Political Economy. She had a job lined up in New York which she wasn't able to take because she couldn't get there. She has gone into business with her mother, selling flowers. "In October 2020, during the second lockdown, I realised that online businesses were thriving". She saw an opportunity to work with her mother, learning her skills as a florist and bringing her own skillset to create something new. Rita's father Dino opened Casa Dino on Deveonshire Rd in 2019 and her mother Bea had started Bea's Flowers in 2017, working with her husband in the restaurant business and complementing fi

Setting up a business in lockdown: James Willcocks – software engineer

Images above: James Willcocks; James' dog Harry Software engineer James Willcocks, 24, lives on Dartmoor. Coming from a farming family, he wasn't convinced that he wanted to work in London, but thought he should at least give it a try. He moved to Chiswick in September 2019 but during the following year, as central London offices emptied and he improved his network of contacts, he realised that actually he could live in Devon and work perfectly well as a software engineer and web developer from home. "The experience of this past year has shown me that you no longer have to go to London to be working at the top in the tech industry" he says. Graduating in 2018 with degree in Computer Science from Hull University, (a First), he took a year off to expand his skil

Setting up a business in lockdown: Francesca & Olivia Johns – Boeboes

Images above: Francesca and Olivia Johns with Boeboes Roman blinds and cushions Boeboes Francesca and Olivia Johns are 22 and 20 respectively. In the summer of 2020 Francesca graduated from Kings, with a degree in Geography; her sister Olivia had just completed her first year studying Criminology at Oxford Brooks University. Did they spend the summer in pyjamas watching Netflix? No they did not. Well, maybe a little, but mainly they decided to act on an idea they'd been mulling for some years and set up a business together selling soft furnishings. "We've always had the idea" says Francesca. "Ten years ago we had the name". 'Boeboes' (as in 'time for beddy boeboes') is a word from their childhood which summons up an image of coziness: sitting

Setting up a business in lockdown: Jake Stewart – Cello

Images above: Jake Backer; Cello Cello Strictly speaking a pre-lockdown business, Jacob Stewart, 23, started Cello, a one-person company making and selling his homemade Limoncello, in late 2019 When he left school he taught fencing, football and cricket in a school for a couple of years before starting a degree in aeronautical engineering. But he quickly decided university wasn’t for him and decided to try his hand at what he really wanted to do: to set up his own business. Cello is Limoncello, the lemon liqueur which originated in southern Italy. Basically fresh lemon juice, sugar and vodka, Jacob’s version is the recipe perfected by his father which became a family tradition and always went down well at social gatherings. The two of them tweaked the r

Pandemic one year on – Unexpected silver linings: Bread making courses online

Remember when there was a run on eggs at the beginning of the first lockdown in 2020? Like toilet rolls and hand sanitiser, as the supermarket shelves emptied, they briefly became highly prized items. People who'd never kept chickens before suddenly decided they would, and the manufacturers of chicken coops quickly ran out of stock. Sara Ward at Hen Corner suddenly found there was a market for online chicken keeping courses. Sara runs Hen Corner - 'Hen' because she keeps chickens and 'Corner' because she keeps them in the back garden of an ordinary surburban house in Brentford which happens to be on a corner. Images above: Sara Ward with one of her girls; photographs from Hen Corner In 2010 she and her husband set out to become self-sufficient. They quickly reali

In Conversation with celebrities – Fane Online

Fane continues to offer some top-notch names “in conversation” online, rolling on until the autumn. Book ahead for Dame Maggie Smith and Kathleen Turner or Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi in April, or way ahead for a Hollywood actor Stanley Tucci, live-streaming from the London Palladium in October. From 24-31 March, Fane is also offering Black Matters, a musical event with Giles Terera, Olivier-award winning star of Hamilton. It’s a cycle of songs inspired by the view from Terera’s Soho apartment during lockdown.

Films, yoga and drama clubs – Riverside Studios, Hammersmith

Riverside is offering three independent films which have received rave reviews – the award-winning animation Away plus Falling, and Luxor. Riverside receives part of the rental income from these films. Plus it’s offering yoga classes every Tuesday at 10am and Cat’s Whiskers, an adult drama club for the over-50s. These classes are free, but donations are welcome.

Orange Tree Theatre performances, Richmond

The Orange Tree is launching its first live streamed performances – a series of world premiere short plays by six emerging and established writers. The plays tell stories of “estrangement and loneliness, connection and redemption, despair in confinement to hope found in life outdoors”. The first tranche of three plays run from 25-27 March, the second from 15-17 April. They can be watched separately – or save 20 per cent when you book them all at the same time. Early Bird tickets only £10 until 18 March.

What the Butler Saw – Theatre Royal Bath

The Theatre Royal Bath is offering the farce “What the Butler Saw” by Joe Orton as an interim show during lockdown, starring Rufus Hound. A co-production with the Leicester Curve Theatre, it’s a filmed version of a stage production. Note: What the Butler Saw was not originally intended for online streaming. The sound is a bit quiet – but the theatre has helpfully provided subtitles

Opera in a Kensington Clock Shop

Grange Park Opera has no less than 19 free events online in what it calls its “Interim Season”. Its latest offering, available from 20 March, is Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole.  It was filmed in and around an antique clock shop on Kensington Church St. Watch this trailer for a behind-the-scenes look at the filming process, including shots of the famous Sally Clarke’s deli and café. These events are free.

Barnes’ People – Original Theatre Company

Barnes’ People is about four theatrical monologues starring Jon Culshaw, Matthew Kelly, Jemma Redgrave and Adrian Scarborough. Then there's A True Born Englishman, starring Adrian Scarborough. Billed as a “world premiere”, it tells the story of a footman at Buckingham Palace who decides, after 30 years, to spill his secret. Duration: around 20 minutes per monologue. Tickets £7.50 per monologue (or you can opt to buy a package). On until 31 July.

A Splinter of Ice – Original Theatre Company

A Splinter of ice is a political drama, set in Moscow in the final years of the Cold War. British novelist Graham Greene meets his old MI6 boss, Kim Philby, Britain’s greatest spy – and traitor. Starring Oliver Ford Davies, it’s penned by Ben Brown, whose award winning West End play Three Days in May inspired the Oscar-winning film, Darkest Hour. Filmed onstage at the Cheltenham Everyman. Tickets £20. 15 April – 31 July.

In the Company of Actors –

A documentary on the making of theatrical show called 'In the Company of Actors' follows Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving in New York as they prepare to open in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Hedda Gabler. Price: £3.99

Letters Live series – YouTube

If you haven’t come across the Letters Live series yet, they are archive recordings from iconic venues like the Union Chapel and Freemasons’ Hall have star names reading brilliant letters; some touching, others absolutely hilarious. Most recently uploaded is a special compilation for International Women’s Day starring Olivia Coleman, Gillian Anderson, Daisy Ridley and Caitlin Moran. Note – adult themes make it unsuitable for children. Letters Live Women’s Day The Letters Live YouTube channel also has other archive events featuring readings from stars including Benedict Cumberbatch, Alan Carr, Claire

Musical events at The Irish Cultural Centre – Hammersmith

West London's local Irish Centre in Hammersmith Broadway has a series of online musical events. And there’s a special traditional session, filmed in the Irish Cultural Centre, which will be available to view from 16 March. See below.  This is a free event.