Banbury Floods 1960

Written by Jeremy Wilton on .


This super old picture turned up in our archives. Do any of our readers recognise its location?
We think it's the Warwick Road in Banbury...
The chap on the bicycle seems to be tempting fate!

Check out the baby boom at The Cotswold Wildlife Park

Written by Kate Wilton on .

Baby Boom at The Cotswold Wildlife Park!


There's been a bit of a baby boom at the Cotswold Wildlife Park this summer, read on to hear about all the new arrivals -aahhh!

Meet the new white rhino calf called Astrid, (who was born on the 1st July 2013), she has found her feet and can be seen running around the paddock she shares with mum Nancy, dad Monty and aunty Ruby! By all accounts she is giving her mum the run around!

P-P-Pick up a Penguin or two!

Meet Jim who hatched on 13th April to mum Josie and dad Poly. He is quite an outgoing penguin and can be seen in the penguin enclosure with the rest of the group. This is  the first time since 2006, the Park has successfully parent-reared two penguin chicks.

A second chick, as yet un-named, hatched on 9th July to mother Yogi and father Dale. This is their first chick since 2003 so it is still early days for the new chick, who is just starting to venture out of the nest box. As you can see they are shouting about their new arrival too!


Miniature Donkey Foals


The Children's Farmyard has two adorable additions to its Miniature Donkey family. On 9th August, mum Holly gave birth to Matilda (front of photo). and six days later, Matilda was joined by her half-brother Pedro (back of photo) when mum Skidaddle gave birth. Danny is the proud new father to both foals. The youngest was named Pedro thanks to votes on our Facebook page.

Jenny is the term used for a female donkey and Jack for a male donkey.

Miniature Donkeys were originally developed on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily in the Mediterranean.


Roxy the Camel!

On 4th August, mum Friday gave birth to a baby girl named Roxy. Dad Chewy, Friday and the new calf are doing well and can be seen with the rest of the herd of Bactrian Camels in their paddock opposite the Rhinos.

Bactrian Camels give birth usually to just one calf after a gestation period of twelve to fourteen months. Females have their first calf at around five years of age and can produce only one calf every two years.

Bactrian Camels were thought to be extinct in the wild until an expedition in 1957 sighted a small herd on the Mongolian slopes of the Altai Mountains.

What a lovely day out to meet all these new arrivals and now you can also meet the giraffes at Cotwold wildlife park at eye level.  Check out their website for more details

Helmdon village cafe gives a warm welcome to all

Written by Kate Wilton on .

photo2Helmdon Village Cafe

A team of volunteers has worked very hard to get the Helmdon village café off the ground. The ambience created by the team is really enhanced by the newly refurbished interior of the Reading Room.

The Café, which is totally run by volunteers, is open every Tuesday morning from 10 to 12, serving fresh coffee , individual pots of tea, and cakes including coffee and walnut, victoria sponge, banoffee cake, fruit cake, chocolate cake , lemon drizzle cake, Caribbean cake, Humming Bird Cake. it’s all delicious!

If you haven’t  yet tried the Café, do pop along !

Helmdon Village Cafe, Church Street, Helmdon.

Spring is the time of year representing renewal

on .

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That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty; violets dim,
But sweeter than the lids of Juno’s eyes,
Or Cytherea’s breath; pale primroses,
That die unmarried, ere they can behold...’ The Winter’s Tale, William Shakespeare

Spring is the time of year representing renewal, mirroring an exciting time of reinvention and revival in the world of interiors. The latter years of the twentieth century celebrated the pared-back hotel and show home-like, modernist interior but now there’s a real ‘anything goes’ attitude to decor. In her book entitled ‘New Decor’ Elizabeth Wilhide argues eloquently “where colour came into the picture at all, it sat uneasily like an intruder; a party guest who had turned up in the wrong clothes.”

A breath of fresh air has been sweeping through, breaking down and subverting many of the traditional rules of interior design. It’s all about pattern currently and decorative details are back in a big way – clever, edgy and often with a contemporary twist. There’s a whole new wave of creative designers and interior decorators bringing back spirit, energy, pleasure and, more importantly, self-expression, into the home. It’s acceptable to layer multiple patterns, one upon another. Carpets, wallpaper and bold fabrics are welcome with open arms and today’s designs often reference the past with restyled patterns.

The worlds of fashion and interiors have always been closely linked and Elizabeth Wilhide asks the question, “Why shouldn’t our homes make us feel as good as our clothes?” New trends in design are pushed from the creative worlds of fashion and art and one of the hottest trends at the moment is the fashion for botanicals and nature. This hankers after the traditional Victorian occupation for botanical drawing. You just have to think of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady!

We Brits are obsessed with our gardens, but if you’re just after cow parsley and butterfly motifs, think again! Of course the nature palette & tonal shades of green are relaxing and refreshing after the rigours of modern living and work well in a subtle, understated room, but if you’re after a more original and eclectic scheme, companies are offering a more urban and edgy take on the world of flora and fauna. I have to say I’m trying really hard not to speak of ‘shoots of growth,’ ‘seeds of change’, ‘going green’, ‘turning over a new leaf,’ ‘springing into action,’ or any other horticultural cliché!

Botanicals are a fantastically versatile trend that can be incorporated into any existing scheme. There are so many applications of this trend - country cottage garden, natural, bold retro, painterly, modern or vintage floral, tropical, eastern, folksy and sophisticated. All you need is an open mind, a little confidence and a true sense of the personalities within your home.

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I’m reluctant to refer to the ‘new botanicals’ again but there is definitely a fresh take on bold botanicals. Advances in new materials and digital technology have enabled companies such as Liberty to lead the way with its pioneering digitally-printed fabrics in The Botanical Garden capsule collection. Fabrics from the Tana Lawn collection as shown, feature contemporary, abstract versions of the timeless floral print and show how this theme can be both feminine and fierce at the same time.

One of my all-time favourite wallpapers is the iconic ‘Martinique’ banana leaf paper that resides in the Beverley Hills Hotel in Los Angeles. For me it’s evocative of days gone by when the Rat Pack were in town, referencing glamour, confidence and attitude. In the same way, several top designers at the London Design Festival last year presented the Retro Botanical theme – plant inspired patterns with roots from the 1950’s, as seen in the range of fabulous prints from

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Leafy designs specifically and patterns inspired by nature are a growing trend – sorry! Linnaeus by Designers Guild, for example, shows a bold, statement wallpaper of topiary. Take a look at this sophisticated take on the theme on this Drum Lampshade, covered in a botanical silhouette, part of the extensive Clarissa Hulse for Heals range ( Graham and Green’s ‘Twiggy’ occasional table can give your room a cheeky twist (

The High Street is also enamoured by this theme. John Lewis’ Home Design Manager, Theo Williams believes their ‘Botanist’ collection “is about rediscovering the pleasure in life’s simple things and reconnecting with nature in the digital age.” Cow parsley wallpaper, meadow cushions and wild herb rugs offer a simple way to inject garden-inspired homewares into your interior, as does House of Fraser’s ‘Organic’ crockery range.

Botanicals are a versatile and more importantly fun way to add accent pattern into a home, alluding to the simple pleasures in life and taking a fresh approach to this trend will harvest rewards. Use the theme sparingly to create focal points in a muted space or take it further and make a bold statement. In a world where people are unable to move house easily, it’s about creating interiors with heart and soul - old and new, classic and contemporary can work well together. The influence of fashion on home design has been positive as it allows homeowners to experiment with bolder ways of styling their homes. We should all strive to be less concerned with ‘taste’ and more concerned with how our homes make us feel.

Spring is about new life. Britain’s creative industries of fashion, music, design and architecture feed the interiors’ world and this, in turn, expounds the latest seasonal trends. These are just there to help us give a nod to the contemporary world occasionally and keep us on our creative toes! So, whether you choose a modest cushion cover or a complete feature wall in full bloom with botanical wallpaper, have a go, it’s time to spring into action and allow the joys of the natural world to creep into your home just a little!

Win fantastic art competition

Written by Jeremy Wilton on .

Art compThe Rose Gallery, John Luce Lockett and the Four Shires have joined forces to find the region's most talented budding artists.
  Win...The top ten images chosen by John Luce Lockett will be displayed at the Rose gallery at a special event on Saturday 16th February 2013 where John will then shortlist the top five to go through to public voting. Shortlisted images will appear in the April issue of Four Shires where readers will decide the overall winner.
  The winner of the competition will get a one to one private tutorial with John Luce Lockett, a £250 gift voucher to spend at The Rose Gallery, their artwork framed by The Rose Gallery, artwork and byline published in the May issue of Four Shires.
For more information visit