Get snapping to win a prize

WHAT does the Chilterns mean to you?

Budding landscape and wildlife photographers of all ages are being invited to answer that question in pictorial form for a new competition being launched this month by the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

IMG_0281The competition is intended to highlight the importance of getting out and about and to encourage participants to celebrate the beauty and enjoyment of the area.

Images can be of anything from a landscape to a building, community event or wildlife, but there are prizes in two categories, for those over 16 years and those under.

park 3

Prizes donated by local businesses include a framed copy of the winning image courtesy of Pretty Like Pictures Framing Studio in Thame, an exclusive 50-minute ride with the driver on a diesel engine offering a unique photo opportunity courtesy of Chiltern and Princes Risborough Railway or a Tree Top experience for four at Go Ape.

Finalists will be selected by an in-house judging panel and short-listed photos will be displayed on an online poll where the public will be able to vote for their favourite. To take part, click on the link above.

History in the making

HISTORY comes alive at the Chiltern Open Air Museum – literally.

One minute you’re wandering past an 18th century house wondering about its former residents and the next moment a lady in period dress has popped out to fill in some of the details and answer your questions.

She is one of a small army of committed volunteers at the museum who love nothing more than bringing the past to life in a very vivid and engaging way, whether that means baking bread in the Iron Age roundhouse or taking part in a school workshop about Victorian life.

It’s the perfect place for a school visit, of course – but what can ordinary families expect to find?

IMG_0860

It’s the perfect antidote to anyone who finds traditional museums stuffy and offputting. There are no glass cases here, just a series of lovingly rebuilt authentic buildings dotted around the spacious 45-acre woodland site close to Chalfont St Peter and Chalfont St Giles.

It was founded in 1976 to rescue historic buildings threatened with demolition and so far more than 30 buildings have been saved and rebuilt on the site, with more in store, spanning hundreds of years of local history.

These range from medieval and Tudor barns to a toll house, forge, chapel, 1940s prefab and a working Victorian farm.

On a sunny day there’s plenty of time for a leisurely stroll around each of the different buildings – and there are a range of paths laid out in the woods for those wanting to get a little more exercise.

IMG_0872

For older visitors there are vivid reminders of the Second World War and post-war housing crisis, with a “prefab” from Amersham vividly capturing life in the late 1940s, right down to the Anderson Shelter in the garden and pictures on the mantelpiece of the family who lived in the building from 1948.

IMG_0873

Outside, despite the July heatwave there’s a flourishing and colourful vegetable garden and a Nissen hut salvaged from Bedfordshire fitted out as an RAF pilots’ briefing room, where guests young and old can try on military uniforms and gas masks.

Atmospheric audio tapes in some of the locations add to the period feel, while in others volunteers are on hand to provide more personal detail. Easy-to-read information boards provide an at-a-glance summary of key facts, with more information on the website and in a family guide available from reception for £3.50.

IMG_0875

We get the personal touch at Leagrave Cottages, where a volunteer is on hand to show us round the building, which started life as an 18th century barn in Bedfordshire and was converted into cottages in the 1770s.

Interviews with the Marks family who lived in one cottage from 1913 to 1928 have enabled the museum to present one cottage accurately as it would have been in the 1920s.  The other side is presented as it might have been in the 18th century.

IMG_0877

From here, we continue to wander through different periods of Chilterns history – from the atmospheric Henton Mission Room built in 1886 in Oxfordshire to an 1830s cottage from Haddenham with walls made of a special type of local earth called wychert.

We still haven’t got to the working Victorian farm – complete with a small selection of rare-breed livestock – and by the time we have chatted with volunteers about iron age baking techniques it’s too late for an ice cream at the tea room, which closes at 3pm on weekdays.

There’s still plenty to see, though – the blacksmith’s forge, the industrial buildings and the 1826 High Wycombe tollhouse from the London to Oxford road which was home to a family of five in the 1840s.

This is perhaps the museum’s greatest strength: its focus on the houses and workplaces of ordinary people that have gradually disappeared from the landscape, particularly in an area on London’s doorstep where the pressures of redevelopment are particularly great and where much of this heritage would otherwise have been lost.

The charity relies very much on the support of more than 200 volunteers (and its association of friends) and those individuals we encountered were relaxed, helpful and not at all pushy. You take a tour here at your own pace and you don’t get history forced down your throat.

You can host a party here, take part in a variety of organised workshops and experience days, or even get married, should you fancy a civil ceremony in the roundhouse, toll house or tin chapel.

But most families will doubtless just enjoy the opportunity to ramble around the extensive site at their own speed, piecing together snippets of local history and appreciating some magical insights into the ordinary lives of people living in this landscape all those centuries ago.

Full details of prices, options and a calendar of forthcoming events are available on the museum website.

MAP

 

 

 

What’s on in the Chilterns

Your at-a-glance guide to activities and events across the Chilterns should be up and running by Easter 2019. For the moment, check out our Facebook group for upcoming events, along with these other local What’s On websites:

The what’s on services operated by tourism websites Visit Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire CotswoldsVisit North Oxfordshire, Visit Southern Oxfordshire, Visit Newbury, Visit Reading, Enjoy St Albans, Visit Herts and Experience Bedfordshire.

The events pages run by The Chiltern Society.

The events calendar operated by local Buckinghamshire magazine Hiya Bucks.

Artists stage final flourish

JAY NOLAN-LATCHFORDINTO THE NIGHT: Jay Nolan-Latchford creates a mystical mood

SOME 300 artists and craftspeople across Buckinghamshire open their doors to the public today for the last day of this year’s Bucks Art Weeks displays.

The three-week programme began on June 9 and features open studios and displays from across the county, ranging from north of Milton Keynes to Maidenhead and Henley in Berkshire.

Many of the artists have joined forces to create local art trials around key centres like Princes Risborough, Amersham and Chesham.

In the Chalfonts, seven artists and makers have been featuring their work over three venues. Working from her gorgeous garden studio in Chalfont St Giles, Julie Rumsey has branched out into mixed media work using acrylic as well as her eye-catching collagraphs, many of which have been inspired by ancient naïve artefacts.

AN-EPISODE-OF-SPARROWS-websiteSENSE OF HISTORY: An Epsiode of Sparrows by Julie Rumsey

She exhibits alongside contemporary fine artist E J England, who often uses damaged vintage books as a canvas.

Her works are inspired by the landscapes, cityscapes, flora and fauna of the British Isles and this year her collection also features large, mixed-media paintings alongside her more intimate Lost Books collection.

dscf4633_0LARGE SCALE: a mixed-media work by E J England

Not all venues are still open for the final weekend, but many local artists have their work featured at other events in the run-up to Christmas. Jay Nolan-Latchford, for example, only exhibited during the first half of the Art Weeks event, her eclectic body of art and home decor ranging from watercolour illustrations with embellishments (see above) through to large mixed media canvases.

Her website name, Johnny Johnstone Art, is in memory of her grandfather who, like herself, was “an avid collector of intriguing things, a lover of rare orchids and a huge influence in my formative years”.

But if you missed Jay’s display this time round, her work will be on show at a number of shows and fairs in the run-up to Christmas at Thame Town Hall and Broadmoor Farm, Haddenham.

Over in Amersham at St Michael & All Angels Church, the Simpatico art group have been delighted to be doing a flourishing trade during the three-week event, selling many of their original works.

SEASCAPESTORMY WATERS: a seascape by Jenny Thompson

Simpatico is a group of self-taught artists living in the Chilterns who paint in a variety of mediums and styles. The amateurs all belong to the Beechwood Artists Group and paint together on a regular basis whenever they can.

Cecile Gallina, Liz Grammenos, Beverley Parkin and Jenny Thompson joined forces with Candida Hackney to host this year’s exhibition at the church, running daily throughout the whole three weeks and forming part of a larger Amersham Art Trail featuring 20 exhibitors.

 

Council hails litter ‘heroes’

MICHEELEVOLUNTEER litter pickers in Kidderminster have been hailed as local heroes by their district council for organising a series of litter picks around the town.

More than 300 members of the Facebook group Keeping Kidderminster and Surrounding Places Clean have been getting out and about their local streets and neighbourhoods picking up litter and disposing of it in litter bins around the district.

The idea stemmed from local teacher Michelle Medler’s new year resolution to pick up a bag of litter a day while walking her dogs – and mushroomed into a community supported by hundreds of volunteers.

Michelle said: “I’m amazed at how many people care and want to make a difference, which is great to know, and the positive comments from the public make it all worthwhile.”

After launching the group in January, she was surprised to see it grow into a 400-strong group after she initiated a number of communal litter picks in different parts of the town. Membership has since doubled to more than 800.

She soon won plaudits from councillors and council officers too. Youngsters and retired pensioners have been among the groups taking part – and Wyre Forest District Council, which has street cleaning reponsibilities in the area, praised Michelle and supplied volunteers with litter pickers, high visibility jackets and gloves, as well as advice about safely disposing of any dangerous items they came across.

Cabinet member for operational services Councillor Rebecca Vale said: “It is truly remarkable to hear about the positive impact these volunteers have had and I’d like to thank every one of them. We spend a lot of time, effort and money cleaning our streets – this just goes to show what a huge difference we can make to the look and feel of the district by working together.”

The Kidderminster model is one The Beyonder is keen to explore further. Beyonder editor Andrew Knight said: “The Kidderminster group are doing an amazing job and seem to have a real community spirit. They can also see the impact they are having on making the town cleaner – and it’s great that the district council has been so supportive.”

The Beyonder is carrying out a local audit before deciding how to pursue its anti-litter campaign in the Chilterns. It is in the process of contacting local parish, district and county councils to find out more about existing waste collection activities across south Buckinghamshire from Marlow to Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross, Chalfont St Giles, Chalfont St Peter and Denham.