Kids Urged to Get Active this Summer

Written by Jeremy Wilton on .

activekidsYoungsters in West Oxfordshire are being urged to get active this summer by taking advantage of a range of discounted activities at the council’s leisure centres.  

 The district council’s leisure centres, run by GLL Better, have put together a wide range of pursuits that will keep kids occupied during the summer holidays.

 Budding street dancers can polish-up their moves with weekly classes at the Windrush Leisure Centre and for those who like to get more physical there are American Football sessions.

Carterton, Chipping Norton and Windrush Leisure Centres are also offering under 16’s the chance to swim for a pound during selected sessions. For kids who enjoy racquet sports, Bartholomew Sports Centre is providing badminton courts for £4 per court and at Chipping Norton leisure Centre all racquet sports are £1 per person. Bartholomew Sports Centre can also be hired for 5-a-side football or basketball at a discounted price of £15.

Windrush Leisure Centre is also running the ‘Active Zone’ Playscheme for 5-11 year-olds offering activities including: roller-skating, face painting and team activities.

Cllr Richard Langridge, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “We are committed to offering services that get young people active and there are some great opportunities for them to have some fun and make new friends at the leisure centres this summer.”

Ben Border, Partnership Manager at GLL Better, said: “We have a huge and exciting programme across the district. There is something for everyone to enjoy during the summer holidays.”

For more information about what’s on offer this summer at the leisure centres visit:

Brits Produce More Cheeses Than the French!

Written by Jeremy Wilton on .

cheesepicCheese guru and British Cheese Awards founder, Juliet Harbutt, today announced that over 900 entries are expected this year in the British Cheese Awards, made up of over 700 unique British cheeses – more than the number of cheeses made across France!  

Over 70% of Britain’s independent cheesemakers enter each year making the British Cheese Awards the biggest of all the competitions. It will be judged on Friday 31st August 2012 on the Village Green in Churchill, Oxfordshire.

“British cheese is on a roll,” says Juliet. “France has 100’s more cheesemakers than we do but in fact Britain produces more unique cheeses including 145 goats’ milk cheeses and 70 or more blues!”

Now in its nineteenth year, the British Cheese Awards is the most prestigious event in the cheese industry calendar and celebrates the very highest quality and diversity of cheeses made in the UK.  The Awards are a totally independent event and their success and prestige are due to the number of entries and the integrity and experience of the judging panel, made up of 55 experts from well-known food writers and retailers to some of the world’s most powerful food buyers.

Over 900 individual cheeses, from tiny goat cheeses to 26kg cloth wrapped cheddars, are entered into 136 classes to be sniffed, squeezed and tasted by the experts. To ensure an overall standard of excellence, there are no first, second or third prizes. Instead, judges may award as many, or as few, Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in any class as they feel are appropriate. Award winners are chosen from all the Gold medal winners in each main category, like Blue or Cheddar, and finally, from the 10 main award winners, just one becomes Supreme Champion.

In addition there are special awards like Cheese Person of the Year, Best New Cheese Deli and Best Cheeseboard Award, to reward those who support, promote or campaign for British cheese.

On Saturday 1st September, following the Judging on Friday 31st August, there are several amazing cheese “tastings” to take advantage of the rapidly ripening 900 cheeses in the marquee on Churchill village green.  At 6pm, ‘Cheeses on the Rack’ gives just 50 people (£35pp and includes Cheeses under the Stars) the opportunity to taste a diverse range of cheeses and gain a unique insight into how the judges decide what makes a superb cheese. They’ll also discover how to match wine, beer or cider with a selection of cheese.

At 8pm, ‘Cheeses Under the Stars’ begins (£20pp, open to all). This gives cheese lovers the chance to wander the cheese marquees, meet the experts, take a cheese tour, create their perfect cheeseboard and sample many of the 900 cheeses on display. Salads, breads and music are provided (within the ticket price) and there’s also a paying bar serving great beers, wines and ciders. 

As with the Oscars, a short list of all the contenders is announced the week after the judging.  The actual winners of the 23 Awards will be announced on Friday 21st September at the Awards Dinner in Cardiff City Hall which also launches British Cheese Week (Saturday 22nd – Sunday 30th September).

 “The Awards represent excellence in British cheesemaking,” says Juliet. “In 2011, 906 cheeses from 182 cheesemakers were judged by 60 judges but only 33% were awarded medals, making it the toughest of all the awards, but it means the medals represent a symbol of excellence.

“The British Cheese Awards and Cheeses on the Green also broaden the discussion of cheese and its importance in both domestic and commercial environments, and demonstrates that British cheeses are every bit as diverse and complex as their European counterparts.”

Masterchef Comes to Banbury

Written by Jeremy Wilton on .

MasterChef the Final Three Andrew KojimaMasterchef finalist Andrew Kojima will be in Banbury next month to show off the skills that saw him reach the last three of the popular BBC cookery programme.He will perform two demonstrations at Banbury Food Fair – to be held in the Market Place on Sunday August 19.

Andrew leapt to prominence in this year’s Masterchef series, and has since been much in demand for public appearances.  

 His demos at the Food Fair will be at 12 noon and 1pm at the Pudding Pie Cookery School marquee. 

Before the TV programme, Andrew, 33, was a research analyst in London.  He was taught to cook by his mother and has loved being in the kitchen ever since.  Andrew said: “I’ve always adored cooking and food. My mum was a teacher so she got long summer holidays to take us to France every year. We would pick fruit and visit markets and I learned to love French food.”

 During Masterchef he impressed the judges with his technical skills and adventurous flavour combinations – and his ambition is a career in food and to inspire others to share his passion.

 Since the series, Andrew has gained experience in some of London's top restaurants and now works as a freelance chef, food writer and cookery teacher. 

The Food Fair is being organised by Banbury Town Council – and will feature more than 60 stalls selling and demonstrating many different types of food and drink. There will also be alfresco eating and drinking areas where visitors can relax for refreshments.

 Council leader Kieron Mallon said: “The Food Fair is an exciting venture for the town council. To get a celebrity chef, who many people will have watched on TV, is a great coup, and I think Andrew Kojima will be a big attraction.

 “There will be other cookery demonstrations by local chefs, and we will continue the TV theme by running our own version of Ready Steady Cook.”

 He added: “Banbury Food Fair will be another terrific ‘free’ day out for the people of Banbury and the surrounding area.”

Further information from Julian Dancer on 01295 817324  or Kieron Mallon on 01295 269177

Susanna Tour

Written by Jeremy Wilton on .

susanna2Susanna returns to tour the UK following the release of her eighth album, “Wild Dog”, which has received rave reviews and high star ratings across the board. 

Susanna is the Norwegian singer and founder of the duo Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, created in 2000 with keyboard player Morten Qvenild.                                                                                                              
 Wild Dog” is Susanna´s eighth album in as many years - including three with Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, her ”Norwegian” album ”Jeg Vil Hjem Til Menneskene” and the recent ECM album with Giovanna Pessi. That is effectively one album a year of critically acclaimed releases since her debut in 2004, indeed a very rare treat these days. Possibly best known for her unique and striking interpretations of iconic songs like ”Jolene”, ”Hallelujah” and ”Love Will Tear Us Apart”, she has also proved herself as an original songwriter with a strong signature; Bonnie ”Prince” Billy has performed and recorded her songs and Mojo named her song ”Believer” as ”one of the greatest break-up songs ever”.

Susanna is an intensely arresting performer; holding audiences captive with her hypnotizing vocal timbre and the powerful, all consuming sound of her band, her concerts are truly magical. Live, Susanna performs songs from her whole Susanna / Susanna and the Magical Orchestra catalogue; performing both the wide ranging covers with which she has become synonymous, and her self-penned originals.

Susanna has been touring with her duo and trio in Europe and the USA, as well as in Japan and China, for many years already. She has played festivals like Big Chill, London Jazz Festival, SONAR, SPOT, SonarSound, Moscow Art festival, Molde International Jazz festival, Montreal Jazz festival, Vancouver Jazz festival amongst others, and at venues like Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, AB in Brussels and La Cigale in Paris. Susanna’s music has been used in TV-series such as “Grey’s Anatomy” from NBC.

Other projects Susanna has been involved in include a commission for Ladyfest Oslo with the great composer and performer Jenny Hval, writing a piece called "The Forester" for a baroque duo and collaborating both in the recording studio and on stage with the American artist Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. Her music has been arranged and performed together with the wonderful Ensemble neoN, and recently she has written music for poems by the Norwegian author Gunvor Hofmo which was released on CD in 2011. She also continues to collaborate with the Swiss baroque-harpist Giovanna Pessi, playing a mix of Purcell, Cohen and her own material.

Children's Art Competition 2012

Written by Jeremy Wilton on .

awardLeamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum in the Royal Pump Rooms invites children to take part in their yearly Children's Art Competition. This free event on Saturday 28 July will give children up to the age of 15 the opportunity to create their own masterpieces using the current exhibition, Going for Gold! Celebrating Local Sporting Life, as inspiration. There is no need to book, just drop in and join in. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Prize winners will be selected by The Chairman of Warwick District Council, Councillor Michael Kinson OBE, Portfolio Holder for Culture at Warwick District Council, Councillor Susan Gallagher, Chairman of FLAG, Graham White and local artist and treasurer of AMA (Association of Midlands Artists), Katharine Barker.

Nadia Wazera, Events Officer, adds 'Why not join in this special Art Cart Family Fun drawing event. Pencils and paper will be provided. It's a free event and you will have lots of fun looking at sports memorabilia and Olympic medals. Everyone who takes part will receive a small prize!'

There will be prizes for the winners of three age categories, 6 years and under, 7 - 10 and 11 - 15. The 'Charles Lines Award' which was introduced in 2009 to recognise artistic potential in the 11 - 15 category, shall be awarded again. This prize is aimed at encouraging young artistic potential. Charles Lines MBE was dedicated to the history of country houses and the history of Warwickshire. During his lifetime he served on the National Trust's Council and was President of its Coventry Centre, he was Honorary Secretary of Solihull Society of Arts and Honorary Advisor to the Friends of Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum.

The Children's Art Competition is supported by the Friends of Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum (FLAG).