Cotswold Wildlife Park Rhino Week 6th-14th April

Written by Jeremy Wilton on .

ACrashOfCrashedOutRhinos.164533Cotswold Wildlife Park is having a week of Rhino based talks and activities to highlight their work with Tusk Trust, the UK based conservation charity which funds some 40 projects to help protect African wildlife.

During the week there will be daily Rhino Keeper talks at 3.30pm. To raise money for Tusk Trust the park will be selling educational trail sheets and having a ‘Guess the Weight’ of replica Rhino Horn.

Tusk Trust funds projects on the ground to help protect endangered species such as Rhinos in the wild. Rhinos have become endangered due to poaching for their valuable horns, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. These projects work closely with local communities and governments in Africa to protect the animals and their environment, through education and anti-poaching campaigns.

Photo: A "crash" of crashed out Rhinos! Monty, Ruby and Nancy, our White Rhinos.

Get mucky in Warwickshire this half-term

Written by Cathy on .

Get messy this half term - NTI John Millar                                                                                                                                                                                
Whether it rains, shines or snows, there’s plenty of messy fun to be had with the National Trust in Warwickshire this half-term.  

If the sun decides to shine, there are natural play areas where you can build dens, balance on logs and scramble around in the mud, and there’s freedom to play as messily as you like in the National Trust’s, parkland and countryside places across Warwickshire.  

If the heavens open, you don’t have to stay indoors.  It’s perfect puddle weather so why not make the most of it? Grab your waterproof and wellies and make a splash. 

Or if the weather just gets too horrible, there’s lots of unclean fun to be had indoors too, from mucky trails to messy activities. 

Beccy Speight, Regional Director for the National Trust in the Midlands, says: “Getting messy is fun!  And if you wear wellies in the smaller sizes, February is a great time of year to get stuck in.  It can be all too easy to hide away at home if it’s cold and rainy outside but whatever the weather, there are muddy puddles to splash in and mucky activities to get involved with, indoors and out, at our places across Warwickshire.”

You can search for half-term events near you at  Some of the best messy activities across Warwickshire include:

* The welly throwing competition at Upton House and Gardens at weekends,
* Discover how to stop pests, bugs, dust and mould munching away at objects that are hundreds of years old.  Explore the (sometimes messy) animals that make Charlecote Park their home.  Find out how servants kept Charlecote and its inhabitants spick and span in Victorian times.  You can even have a go to see how much elbow grease was needed.  
Pull your wellies on and enjoy a walk in the woodland at Coughton Court to find the bluebells.  
Pick up a map and follow the horseshoe way markers at Baddesley Clinton to discover a hideaway maze. Navigate through the trees with eyes closed using the ‘feel your way’ rope. Hop along the balancing beams and logs, and then see what you can spy from Crows’ Lookout. When little legs need a break, sit down in Rest Awhile shelter and perhaps share a story or two.  

If you prefer to make your own muddy fun, why not check out the National Trust’s list of 50 things to do before you’re 11¾?  From building dens to finding frogspawn, there’s plenty to keep mucky pups entertained.  You can download the list at

Photo shows: Children have fun getting messy, splashing in puddles Credit: National Trust/John Millar

West Oxfordshire walks

Written by Jeremy Wilton on .

From ghost trailstour d trigs 2 and treks to leisurely walks around historic towns, a series of guided walks will be taking place for people to get out and about and explore parts of West Oxfordshire on foot as part of English Tourism Week.
  Taking place from 16-24 March, English Tourism Week celebrates the country’s best visitor experiences and will be marked in West Oxfordshire with a ‘Week of Walks’ across the District.
  Residents and visitors alike are invited to take part in the free walks, led by knowledgeable guides who will give interesting information about the local area.
  The walks have been organised by West Oxfordshire District Council as part of its work to support the local tourism industry and will take place on:
  Sunday 17 March, 7pm - a spooky evening walk around Burford Ghost Trail, with a look at creepy tales of times past with guide Bill Spectre, meeting at The Tolsey. The walk will last around 90 minutes.
Monday 18 March, 2pm – a 3.6-mile walk through the charming countryside around Charlbury, led by Cotswold warden Ken Betteridge, starting at the Scout Hut in Nineacre Lane
Tuesday 19 March – an hour-long walk around historic Woodstock with guide Linda Glees, starting at 10.30am from the stocks outside Oxfordshire Museum, followed by the Burford town walk led by Roy Lilley, from 2pm, from Burford Visitor Information Centre.
Wednesday 20 March, 10.30am – starting at the Town Hall, local guide John Grantham will lead a walk around Chipping Norton.
Thursday 21 March, 2pm – an expert from Witney and District Museum will guide a walk around the historic market town of Witney and give an informative talk about its history, starting outside the Council’s Town Centre Shop in Welch Way.
Friday 22 March – Graham Williams, from Oxfordshire Ramblers, will host two five-mile circular walks around Eynsham, the first starting at 10am at Back Lane car park, arriving back at 12.30pm for an optional pub lunch. The second walk, via Abbey Ponds and Pinkhill Lock, also starts from Back Lane. 

Cllr Richard Langridge, the District Council’s Cabinet Member for Local Economy, Communities and Culture, said: “West Oxfordshire has some fantastic towns and villages, and is a wonderful place to both live and visit. The Week of Walks provides a great opportunity to get out and about in our area and find out about some of the local countryside, villages and towns that can be enjoyed all year round by residents and visitors alike.”
tour de tigs 3

New season at Cogges Farm

Written by Cathy on .


                                                                                                                                                  Cogges Manor Farm, Witney Open 23 March – 3 November 2013

 Join the team and volunteers and celebrate the new season at Cogges with a spectacular opening weekend for the whole family on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th March 11am – 5pm.

Enjoy all the fun of the fete with traditional family games -
Coconut Shy, Splat the Rat, Hook A Duck, Tombola, Lucky Dip, Piñata, Welly Wanging!

Meet the new animals,
Shetland pony, Pygmy goats, Oxford Sandy and Black pigs, Cotswold sheep, Indian Runner ducks and chickens.

This season, for the first time, Cogges opens up the excavated moat and island walks and adventure trail for visitors to follow the trail round the island and woods, or explore the natural habitat with welly walks by the banks of the river Windrush.

The launch of a fantastic new adventure play area is planned during the spring – (*aiming to be ready for the opening, depending on possible archeology and weather at the site) - with climbing frame, basket swing, balance beams, slide, rope bridge and zip wire based around a timber construction on the site of the original manor. 

Colin Shone, Cogges director said: 2013 is a very exciting year for Cogges. It has been a long held ambition to open up access to the moat and the island. We believe the trails and the play area will encourage many more people to enjoy the beauty of this heritage site. Cogges is a great place to relax and to have fun and the new additions will enhance that experience.”

Plus weatherproof fun for young children in the new soft play barn, outdoor games, f
acepainting, bread making and competitions!

Fresh air makes you hungry, so stop for lunch with homebaked cakes and seasonal dishes from the Café at Cogges run by Simple Bakery, free entry 9-5 Tuesday to Friday and 10-5 at weekends and bank holidays. Visit the farm shop with local produce, crafts and pocket money toys or take home freshly picked vegetables from the walled garden.

NOTE: Tours of the manor house run every Friday at 11am, and Cogges will be running a seasonal programme of family events, tours, festivals and workshops, from outdoor theatre to willow craft, traditional building and children’s holiday activities. 

Cogges is nestled on the doorstep of Witney centre, about five minutes along a cycle/ footpath accessed opposite Waitrose car park. Why not buy a season ticket and visit throughout open season, there really is something for everyone at Cogges.

For more information please visit:


Painted Scenes of Banbury by artist Maurice Draper

Written by Kate Wilton on .

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The Catherine Wheel Pub Banbury by Maurice Draper

Step back into old Banbury

For over half a century Maurice Draper painted scenes of Banbury, often recording buildings that are no longer part of the townscape. He passed away in 2011, aged 104. In commemoration of his contribution to the town’s history through his artwork, Banbury Museum has opened a new exhibition, Maurice Draper’s Banbury, where visitors are invited to take a walk back through the old streets of Banbury.

The exhibition features paintings of familiar scenes, such as Market Square, as well as areas that have changed virtually beyond recognition, like the canal wharfs. Visitors can see if they can work out the location of the picture and what would they see at the same place today. Also on display are many rarely exhibited working sketches, which offer further insight into the history of the town and into the approach of the artist.

Cherwell District Council deputy leader George Reynolds, said: “This exhibition is sure to trigger lots of memories. It's a reminder that a look up above the modern shop fronts of Banbury’s old streets is often rewarded with a sight of fascinating historical architecture.”

The exhibition is open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm until 27 April. Entry is free. For further details phone 01295 753752 or visit

Maurice Draper came to Banbury in 1945 to take up a teaching post at Banbury Grammar School, where he became head of science. He helped to found the Banbury and District Art Society in 1947. He also taught watercolour and often exhibited, continuing to paint well into his nineties.

Most of the paintings and all the working sketches in the exhibition are part of the museum collections and were kindly donated to the museum by Maurice Draper.

Illustration attached: The Catherine Wheel, Maurice Draper, 1960. The Catherine Wheel on Bridge Street was a Hunt Edmunds pub and a coaching inn, formerly known as 'The Bull'. Maurice Draper sketched and painted it before it was demolished in the 1960s. On the right is the old Baptist Church that was built in 1841 on the site of a medieval inn, ‘The Altarstone’. The front of the former Baptist church still exists.