Songs can bring our landscape to life

 A “SONIC postcard” celebrating the landscape of the Chilterns has been released by a young singer-songwriter from High Wycombe.

The music video features an original song from local artist Jazz Dylan celebrating what makes the Chilterns special to her.

It forms part of the ongoing Echoed Locations project highlighted in The Beyonder last February, which has already seen students from Bucks New University using simple recording skills to bring the local countryside to life.

Now other musicians are being encouraged to follow Jazz’s example and produce some more original tracks.

Says Jazz: “I am a bit of a hippie. I’m an over-thinker and for me getting out into nature lets me just be myself. I feel very lucky to have the Chilterns on my doorstep and spend a lot of time there. I still come across things I’ve never seen before.”

She says the song is a condensed portrait of her experience of the Chilterns.

“There is so much I could say about this gorgeous place that I call home,” she adds. “One of my favourite things about the Chilterns is the amount of sky we have and getting to see all the birds flying. I don’t know what it is about red kites that I love so much, I just think they are awesome.”

Jazz says that during lockdown, she came to fully appreciate how close she was to nature and the huge impact it can have on one’s mental wellbeing – and of course her video is not all about sunny days and soaring red kites: “Keeping with true British style, I had to include the rain,” she says. “Being drenched in rain then having a hot chocolate. That’s perfection isn’t it?”

Get On Your Boots is the first of what the Chalk, Cherries and Chairs project hopes to be many original songs that will be added to Echoed Locations, and the team is calling for more artists and musicians to fcontribute with their own songs, poems or sounds that will help people connect to the Chilterns landscape.

Chalk streams get timely cash boost

THE Chilterns’ precious chalk streams are to benefit from a £294,000 grant from the government’s Green Recovery Challenge fund.

The money will pay for an important initiative balancing practical restoration work with education and engagement projects.

The Chiltern Society and Chilterns Conservation Board are partners in the project, entitled: “Chalk stream and wetland meadows: guarding the irreplaceable for people and nature.”

RARE HABITAT: the River Chess at Latimer Park

Schemes developed by the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project focus on wetland habitats across the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The globally rare habitat supports a wide diversity of plants and animals and offers opportunities for recreation and relaxation as well as providing fresh water to local communities. Yet chalk streams are under threat from pollution, urban development, invasive species and climate change.

The grant will enable the creation of two jobs with the Chiltern Society and will indirectly benefit other NGOs and voluntary groups, including Revive the Wye, Benson Environment Group and Chiltern Rangers CIC.

Elaine King, chief executive officer of The Chilterns Conservation Board, said: “We are delighted to be awarded this funding. By connecting nature and people, we aim to secure a healthy future for chalk streams and for the people, communities and businesses of both the Chilterns AONB, and nearby urban areas.”

Tom Beeston, Chiltern Society chief executive, said: “It provides a much-needed and immediate boost in activity of works to protect our internationally rare and endangered chalk stream habitats. Longer term, it facilitates the building of volunteer capacity to continue that much-needed protection and awareness building for chalk streams and wetlands over the coming decades.”

In the first phase of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, the government announced grants between £62,000 and £3.8 million to help create and retain thousands of green jobs. The projects, spread across England, will see trees planted and protected landscapes and damaged habitats such as moorlands, wetlands and forests restored, alongside wider conservation work. The projects will also support environmental education and connecting people with green spaces.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The sheer breadth and potential of these projects to restore and transform our landscapes, boost nature and create employment is tremendously exciting.”

TV detectives return to The Lee

THERE were more dark deeds afoot on the village green on Sunday night when the Midsomer Murders team returned to the Buckinghamshire village where the whole grisly detective series began.

GRISLY PAST: The Lee has featured in several episodes of the crime series

There could hardly be a more picturesque setting that The Lee near Wendover, and 24 years ago it was transformed into Badger’s Drift for the pilot episode of what would become the UK’s longest-running crime drama and most popular drama export.

Followers of the series might recall how the atmospheric Cock & Rabbit pub on the green because the Rose & Chalice for DCI Barnaby’s first outing back in 1997.

This week the pub was back at the heart of the action as a line-up of guest stars joined the regular cast for the second of six feature-length episodes making up Season 22 of the drama, with Neil Dudgeon enjoying his tenth year in the starring role.

CRIME SCENE: Neil Dudgeon and Nick Hendrix investigate PICTURE: ITV/Mark Bourdillon

Tension mounts after a local outcast controversially acquitted of a brutal murder years previously returns to the area – and a death on the village green means Barnaby and sidekick DS Jamie Winter (Nick Hendrix) are called in to investigate.

Prime suspects include John Thomson as Cooper Steinem (best known as Pete from Cold Feet) pulling pints behind the bar, Lily Allen’s dad Keith Allen as Harry Marx and The Queen’s Gambit star Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as the ambitious Gideon Tooms.

Welsh actor Allen has played a variety of “baddie” roles in the past, with a CV that ranges from Shallow Grave and Trainspotting to Kingsman and Marcella.

But undisputed star of Sunday’s instalment, filmed in 2020, was Hannah Waddingham from Game of Thrones in a bravura performance as larger-than-life Mimi Dagmar, Midsomer’s most flirtatious estate agent, whose suggestive asides left even DCI Barnaby looking a little uncomfortable.

ON THE CASE: DCI Barnaby and DS Jamie Winter PICTURE: ITV/Mark Bourdillon

Chilterns residents get an additional delight from spotting local venues used as a backdrop for the series, as Joan Street can testify – over the past 20 years she has chronicled more than 120 locations on her Midsomer Murders website.

Says Joan, who lives in London: “I was inspired to start the site having recognised some of the locations in a very early episode called Written in Blood.  Initially it was only going to be a website for the locations but somehow or other it grew and grew! 

“I launched the first pages way back in 1999, never envisaging the series would still be going on in 2021.  It was a bit of fun but gradually almost became like a second job.  Midsomer’s popularity increased every year with more and more locations being used; something that fascinated many viewers.”

LOCAL LANDMARKS: historic pubs across the Chilterns have featured in the series

It wasn’t long before the site had more than a million hits, with more than 2,300 members joining a forum linked to it.

“A friend and I used to go out on weekends trying to track down some of the locations used,” Joan recalls. “We were very naive at first but soon learnt that a lot of detective work needed to be done in advance to find them.  The quirkiness of Midsomer was also a huge appeal.  We became totally addicted.”

The series became such a worldwide success that a series of guided and self-guided tours have been launched across the region showing tourists favourite locations, from Henley and Marlow to Thame and the Hambleden Valley.

WINNING FORMULA: Season 22 launched on April 4 PICTURE: ITV/Mark Bourdillon

Joan admits: “Prior to Midsomer I’d never visited any of the places used in the Chilterns.  It was a voyage of discovery.  I now know almost every town and village and we both ended up loving the area.”

The Lee has featured in at least four other Midsomer episodes, and Sunday night saw its picturesque cottages back in the public eye, this time as Tamworth Springs, home to an ill-fated social and health club for recovering heart bypass patients.

POPULAR SPOT: the picturesque village green at The Lee has been a favourite TV location

The Stitcher Society was broadcast on Sunday April 11 on ITV and is still available to watch on ITV Hub. Midsomer Murders is made by Bentley Productions, part of ALL3Media.

Deadly locations lure the tourists

THERE are more dark deeds afoot this weekend in Britain’s deadliest county when Midsomer DCI John Barnaby is back on the murder trail.

The Stitcher Society is the second of six feature-length episodes making up Season 22 of the popular crime drama, with Neil Dudgeon enjoying his tenth year in the starring role.

CRIME SCENE: Neil Dudgeon and Nick Hendrix investigate PICTURE: ITV/Mark Bourdillon

Tension mounts after a local outcast controversially acquitted of a brutal murder years previously returns to the area – and a death on the village green means Barnaby and sidekick DS Jamie Winter (Nick Hendrix) are called in to investigate before the body count starts to rise.

Locals may not be expecting an early solution to the mystery – since the show launched 24 years ago the area has witnessed more than 400 deaths.

Renowned for its dark humour, stunning scenery and high-profile guest stars, the show is not only the country’s longest-running crime drama but also its most popular drama export.

ON THE CASE: DCI Barnaby and DS Jamie Winter PICTURE: ITV/Mark Bourdillon

Chilterns residents get an additional delight from spotting local venues used as a backdrop for the series, as Joan Street can testify – over the past 20 years she has chronicled more than 120 locations on her Midsomer Murders website.

Says Joan, who lives in London: “I was inspired to start the site having recognised some of the locations in a very early episode called Written in Blood.  Initially it was only going to be a website for the locations but somehow or other it grew and grew! 

“I launched the first pages way back in 1999, never envisaging the series would still be going on in 2021.  It was a bit of fun but gradually almost became like a second job.  Midsomer’s popularity increased every year with more and more locations being used; something that fascinated many viewers.”

LOCAL LANDMARKS: historic pubs across the Chilterns have featured in the series

It wasn’t long before the site had more than a million hits, with more than 2,300 members joining a forum linked to it.

“A friend and I used to go out on weekends trying to track down some of the locations used,” Joan recalls. “We were very naive at first but soon learnt that a lot of detective work needed to be done in advance to find them.  The quirkiness of Midsomer was also a huge appeal.  We became totally addicted.”

The series became such a worldwide success that a series of guided and self-guided tours have been launched across the region showing tourists favourite locations, from Henley and Marlow to Thame and the Hambleden Valley.

WINNING FORMULA: Season 22 launched on April 4 PICTURE: ITV/Mark Bourdillon

Joan admits: “Prior to Midsomer I’d never visited any of the places used in the Chilterns.  It was a voyage of discovery.  I now know almost every town and village and we both ended up loving the area.”

The latest episode sees the detectives return to The Lee near Wendover, scene of numerous earlier investigations over the show’s 24-year history.

The picturesque village was Badger’s Drift in the very first pilot episode back in 1997, when the Cock & Rabbit village pub was rebranded the Rose and Chalice.

This week the famous village green was the location for more murder and mayhem, this time as Tamworth Springs, home to an ill-fated social and health club for recovering heart bypass patients.

The Stitcher Society is broadcast on Sunday at 8pm on ITV. Midsomer Murders is made by Bentley Productions, part of ALL3Media.