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Cherry trees in Staveley Rd - Jon Perry

The High Rd loses another business to the Coronavirus

Famous Brands, the parent company of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, has said it will no longer continue to fund the 'better burger' chain, according to industry magazine Big Hospitality.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) currently has 60 or so restaurants around the UK, including one in Chiswick High Rd. 

Famous Names bought GBK in 2016 for £120 million, but there has been a decline in 'casual dining' over the past couple of years, and with restaurants now shut because of the Coronavirus, the chain now faces an uncertain future.

Business analyst Anthony Clark told Big Hospitality that Famous Brands' decision not to spend money on GBK meant the business would not survive. 

"When you withdraw funding for a struggling business it is signalling its death knell".

That is the second big hospitality company to pull the plug on a chain with a branch in Chiswick High Rd since pubs and restaurants closed on 20 March. The owners of the Roebuck went into administration just over two weeks ago.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) think-tank has suggested that 25% of the UK economy could be lost by the summer due to the Coronavirus lockdown.

Le Vacherin

Le Vacherin launches crowd-funding 

Chiswick's high class French restaurant Le Vacherin has launched a crowd-funding campaign to survive closure during the Coronavirus emergency. 

'Please support Le Vacherin, your local restaurant' they say. 'Together we will survive. For you, we intend to stay around!'

So far they have raised £8,392 towards a target of £35,000, by issuing vouchers for varying amounts to be redeemed once the restaurant is open again.

"We have been humbled by the response from local people" says owner Donna Thompson Smith.

Read my interview with Donna and more about how to support Le Vacherin on The Chiswick Calendar website.

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Chiswick Market centenary

The group behind the Chiswick Flower Market proposal, of which The Chiswick Calendar is a part, has received overwhelming support for the idea from local traders and residents.

There is still time for you to give us your feedback by filling out our survey.

The Flower Market will stand on the site of Chiswick's original outdoor market, which was established in early 1920, in response to a different economic need – men returning home from fighting in the First World War who needed an income.

The discussions at the time in the equivalent of today's social media - letters to The Chiswick Times - are very revealing of the class and gender politics involved.

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar website. 

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Photograph - Steve Anderson

Don't get caught out by the spring tides

The RNLI have issued a warning to people not to get caught out by the spring tides. 

RNLI helmsman Andy Mayo said ‘People taking their permitted daily exercise have been caught out in several incidents.

We have seen the Thames towpath busy like a sunny Bank Holiday every day of the week with walkers, joggers and cyclists. Some have been walking along the foreshore. We have had to rescue those who have been tempted to walk over to islands at low tide.

The tide rises very rapidly especially in last week’s high spring tides. We have rescued many over the years who have got in trouble while going for a walk by the river not knowing that the Thames is tidal in London.’

RNLI Personal Protection Equipment


The Thames lifeboat crews are changing their operating procedures to protect themselves so they can continue their lifesaving work.

The crews have been split into nine teams, each doing a 24 hour shift. There is no mixing of crews or physical contact at changeover. This change in rostering means that if one team has to self isolate another team can step in.

Green Days - Photograph by Jon Perry

Green Days cancelled

It comes as no great surprise that this year's Green Days, the weekend-long fete which usually heralds the beginning of the Bedford Park Festival in June has been cancelled.

Bedford Park Festival goes online

Organisers of the Bedford Park Festival are hoping to continue some elements of the festival online.

The Chiswick Calendar will be hosting the annual Photography exhibition and competition on The Chiswick Calendar website. Details to follow soon.

Artists Stay Home

Chsiwick's artists will not be welcoming people into their homes in June either. 

Artists At Home is a collection of artists in Chiswick, Hammersmith and Shepherd's Bush who traditionally welcome people into their homes and studios to look at their work.

They have rebranded themselves as 'Artists Staying at Home' to reflect the fact that this year their doors will remain closed but their work will be shown online instead.

In the run up to Artists Staying At Home The Chiswick calendar will be featuring various of the artists involved.

Share pictures of your garden

Bud Murryweather of the local gardening company Outer Space has had the bright idea of inviting people to share pictures of their garden on her Instagram account.

'We need our gardens more than ever right now - but nobody else can see them! And we might not even have Open Gardens this year...' she says.

Given there's very little else to do if you are on lockdown at home, the chances are your garden will look spectacular this year, so share the love.

See how your garden can feature on her Instagram account to cheer us all up, on The Chiswick Calendar website. 

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Filming in Egypt

The History of Africa with Zeinab Badawi

After I left the BBC in 2014, I worked on a documentary series with Zeinab Badawi on the History of Africa, from its inception in the offices of UNESCO in Paris, where we came up with the idea while on a visit to talk about something else entirely, through film making trips to 13 African countries over the next few years and many hours of editing and scripting.

I had a fantastic time travelling around in jeeps and landcruisers, small planes and speedboats with African crews – witty, knowledgeable, talented guys, experiencing the impressive heat of the deserts of Sudan and safaris on the plains of the Serengeti, filming the surreal Italian art deco architecture of Eritrea’s capital city, and the stunning remains of the Roman cities of Algeria.

Zeinab and fellow producer Lucy Doggett and I had such fun making this series and to say I learned a lot would be something of an understatement. Now the programmes are available to watch on BBC News Africa’s Youtube channel.

I've added the links to our Lockdown - Things to do online section of The Chiswick Calendar website.

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Ballet4Life live-stream classes

Ballet4Life, which specialises in dance classes for adults of all levels of ability, have started live-streaming their classes. 

"The programme has been received remarkably well and our list of participants has grown to 120 in one week, coming from around the world" says founder / director Donna Schoenherr.

It includes three levels of ballet, mindfulness, contemporary dance, character dance, and a 'lucky dip' lunch time class.

Pilates, Yoga and Stretching are being added to the timetable this week. Classes, which require a small donation, take place morning, mid-day, afternoon, and evenings.

See how to sign up on The Chiswick Calendar website.


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Which food shops are doing deliveries?

We've had a lot of interest in our list of the food places providing takeaways and deliveries to our Covid-19 Help & Information pages.

Correct at time of writing, things change so fast, please check direct with the vendor and please let us know if any of the information on here is no longer true when you use it.

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Man in the Middle

What to do with the elderly parent you know in your heart of hearts can no longer cope living alone? That is a dilemma for many people.

Our regular column 'The Man in the Middle' is the musings of a middle aged man on living with his family and aged mother. If you would like to read the columns in order from the beginning, you can read Episode One: The Letter, here. 

No 31 Can you be Hygge without hugs?

Cabin fever sets into the Man in the Middle houshold. They are watching repeats and Mother, forgetting she's watched it before, is rejoicing in getting the same question right in University Challenge. It's enough to drive the Man in the Middle round the twist.
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Richard Heller
Lockdown to continue

Dominic Raab, temporarily in charge until Boris is fit to go back to work,  is set to announce today that the lockdown will continue for another three weeks.

Former Mail on Sunday columnist Richard Heller writes: 

'No offence but I’d rather have the late Raab Buttler. Or his distant cousin Jos, who isn’t doing much at the moment. Or Peter Raabit. Or Raabit from Winnie-the-Pooh ...

'There is no apparent end of lockdown and people are vexed and frustrated. Familiar goods have returned to the shops and there is no thrill any more in detecting loo roll or celeriac, or in devising exotic recipes for pilchards with dried apricots, to make use of forgotten items in store cupboards.

'Hectoring fitness videos have been silenced as have wheedling meditation gurus. People have stopped shaving or flossing and sartorial standards at home are making a vertiginous descent: even I no longer change my tie to compose light verse'.

Read his guest blog on The Chiswick Calendar website.

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Staveley Rd
Stavely Rd blossom 

The cherry trees in Staveley Rd are in full blossom. The street is so renowned for its cherry trees that rumour has it the Queen Mum used to like to get her chauffeur to drive along it at this time of year.

If you can't get to see the blossoms in the flesh, have a look at Jennifer Griffiths' photos on The Chiswick Calendar website.

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People are spending more time with their pets. Have you tried the dog v cat challenge?
My favourite is Scottish sports commentator Andrew Cotter, so bored with the lack of any sport to describe, he's taken to commentating on his dogs. 
Club Card offer
35% off agency fees
The Chiswick Calendar  Club Card Membership 
Open John D Wood & Co's Little Black Book to see how to sell your property discreetly


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