In case you missed it we thought we'd share Charis White's fabulous blog post on the upcoming Watlington Art Weeks. Such a fabulous write up from start to finish. Thank you Charis for so eloquently showing off how lucky we all are to live here!
"Watlington is a small Oxfordshire market town that is blessed with that rare species – a thriving independent high street. Nestled amongst farmland at the foot of the Chiltern Hills, it has ‘a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker’. The butcher is called Tom, the 14-year-old baker (as featured in The Sunday Times) regularly creates queues halfway up the street for her pop-up bread sales, while the candlestick maker has show-stopping designer lighting. Oh, and the town is also about to launch its first Art Week.
Who’s who in Watlington
Watlington is home to film aristocracy with actors such as Jeremy Irons, Sinead Cusack and Jeremy Northam. There are top Disney executives, advertising folk, newspaper journalists and photographers. Not to mention the beauty writers, leading textile and interior designers (quick oxygen intake!) and quite a lot of artists – as it turns out..."
Read the rest of Charis's blog here.
At our AGM following on from our public meeting on Better Broadband. We were delighted to welcome John Riddell (The Fat Fox Inn) and Francesca Holmes-Smith (The Granary Deli) to our Executive Committee who join Tom Calnan (Calnan Brothers), Louise Stile (Bella Luce), Robin Holmes-Smith (The Granary Deli), David Cotterell (Apex Healthcare Consulting), Loraine Daniels (Bella Luce), Denise Allnut (SKP Solutions), Amanda Hinton (K is for Kitchen) and Steph Van de Pette (Watlington Parish Council) who were all re-elected to the committee. Sam Swanson (Chiltern Pet Partners) stepped down from her role on the committee and was thanked for her contribution.
We adopted an updated constitution which will help guide us through this period of anticipated growth and increased activity. You can download a copy of the constitution here.
We were delighted to be able to present cheques to both Watlington Youth Club and the First Steps Family Hubs for £200 each. The donations were made from the proceeds of our hugely successful Christmas Market which promises to be even bigger and better this year! We are always looking for more volunteers to help with organising the market. If you can spare an hour or two on the day or would like to help with the coordination in the run up to the event please contact Robin at The Granary Deli.
If you would like to join the Business Association to benefit from the many perks that membership provides, click here to complete our membership form.
We hosted a public meeting at The Social on Thursday 4 April with representatives from Oxfordshire County Council’s Better Broadband Team, Openreach and Gigaclear.
Watlington currently benefits from superfast broadband, which means there are fibre cables connecting the telephone exchange to the various green cabinets. However, the connection from the green cabinet to your property was not upgraded meaning you will still have old, likely degraded, copper wire for the final part the internet’s journey to your property. This may be affecting the speed and reliability of your internet connection.
Through a Government scheme, called the Gigabit voucher scheme, businesses (including sole traders and home based businesses) are entitled to up £2,500 towards a fibre to the premises (FTTP) connection with up to 10 residential properties then being able to claim another £500 each. The cumulative value of these vouchers could be enough to install FTTP connections in the whole of Watlington.
WBA will be submitting a proposal to Watlington Parish Council’s Strategy Committee this month to progress this as a community based project. It will need support from as many local businesses and residents as possible so please do express your interest by emailing email@example.com.
Our AGM will be held on Thursday 11th April at 6pm at The Social.
Prior to the AGM we have a guest speaker from the Oxfordshire Better Broadband Team to speak to all local businesses about the Government's Gigabit voucher scheme. The scheme could help us to significantly improve broadband speeds in the town at little to no cost to you. All are welcome to the talk.
If you are a member of WBA we invite you to stay for the AGM from 7pm. New members also welcome, membership is only £35 per year (discounts available). Click here for further details.
To register for a free ticket to either the talk or the AGM please click here.
Looking forward to meeting all our new members there!
Watlington Parish Council and The Watlington Club have recently announced the 2019 Watlington Community & Volunteer Awards to say thank you to the people of Watlington who go that extra mile for the community. Watlington Business Association and our members are proud to be supporting these awards.
There are six categories to enter. Anyone can make a nomination, as long as the person or organisation nominated lives, works or studies in Watlington.
All nominations will be judged on how the individual or organisation has:
A panel of judges will meet to discuss a shortlist in detail and find the six winners for 2019. The decision of the awards panel is final and the panel reserves the right not to make awards if there are no eligible nominations.
Nominations close on 24th May 2019.
Organisation of the Year Award (Sponsored by The Granary Delicatessen)
For voluntary organisation or community group carrying out ongoing activities in the parish within the last 12 months.
Young Volunteer of the Year Award (Sponsored by Calnan Brothers)
For a young person (under 25) who deserves recognition for volunteering regularly or raising money for charity within the last 12 months.
Volunteer of the Year Award (Sponsored by Bella Luce)
For an individual who has worked tirelessly for the good of our community within the last 12 months.
Unsung Hero Award (Sponsored by Apex Healthcare Consulting)
For those people who work incredibly hard for the community with little recognition – nominations need not be for volunteering only and are not constrained to achievements in the past 12 months only.
Environmental & Conservation Award (Sponsored by Chiltern Pet Partners)
For an individual or organisation that has made a significant contribution to preserving or enhancing the local environment within the last 12 months.
Community Consciousness Award (Sponsored by K is for kitchen)
For an individual or organisation that has significantly raised awareness of an important issue locally or nationally within the last 12 months.
The awards ceremony will take place at Watlington Club on Saturday 8th June. Prior to the award ceremony, there will be a chance to find out more about the fantastic variety of clubs, charities and community organisations in and around the parish. After the prizes have been awarded, a BBQ will be available for you to stay and celebrate.
To download a nomination form please visit Watlington Parish Council's website.
Reprinted with permission from the Watlington Times (March 2019). Pick up your copy from the Co-op for just 50p.
"The Village that keeps on giving". That was the comment made by a well off west London friend of my daughter-in-law who had driven up from London to visit for lunch. As she walked down the High Street yet one more enticing shop after another allowed her to do almost all her Christmas shopping here.
Over the last few years Watlington's High Street has acquired some interesting new shops and the old ones have been revamped. We hear lots of anecdotal news that it has become a 'destination'. Actually it has gone beyond and anecdote and is true.
On the corner Bella Luce with its spectacular lights in the window catches the eye of passing traffic topped at the Town Hall, especially at night when the lamps are lit. As a result they get customers from as far as Cheltenham and Nottingham who make a special stop to visit the shop. You will have noticed the lady with umbrella lamps, these are hand made in Greece and dozens have been sold.
The Italian Handbag Shop despite being small also attracts the attention of passing drivers sitting in traffic. For the owner, Catherine Johnson, business has been good; she has a wide price range from £25 - £250 so lots of customers come in to buy small presents. She buys all her bags from small family run leather workshops outside Florence. It shows just how far the incompetence of our government reaches in that at present she buys small quantities at each order so if a line does not sell she is not stuck with stock, but with Brexit looming should she now take a risk and spend thousands of pounds stockpiling bags that might not sell?
When I walked into K is for kitchen I was assailed by a lovely smell of cooking... It was Wednesday and Wendy was preparing quiches on their dinky little single plate Aga. It's like an Aladdin's cave and a testament to Amanda Hinton's imagination that apart from selling kitchen stuff they hold cookery demonstrations prepare food to order for parties, baptisms, business lunches etc. have started a wedding list service, sell Cook Ready Meals and Ice Cream and kitchen units. I enquired about their best seller, apparently Self Sealing Lids, they are silicone suction lids you can use on frying pans and in the fridge. I was given a demonstration, put a lid on a glass and lift it up by the lid's handle and it sticks... Magic!
The revamped Calnan's Butchers also draws in customers from quite a distance, as far as Aylesbury. Their best seller is the ready prepared dishes; they are all made in the shop, many by Tom Calnan himself.
Robin at the Granary hopes that his new more spacious shop will allow people to find things more easily. The extra space lets him have a whole wall of local - well from between London and Bristol - bottled beers. The bigger café now has a quieter side where people feel more able to work and have business meetings. Let's hope the longer stays translate into more spending.
Drapes, the interior designers, have been in Watlington for 37 years and their workshop in the High Street making all types of soft furnishings, curtains and upholstery, etc. Their shop in Couching Street with such decorative window displays is really the show room for their dozen of textile sample books.
I can't mention every shop but now we hardly need to leave Watlington, we can buy presents for all occasions and things for the house, Mercy in Action has given us a clothes shop and the Rhubarb Tree has taken over selling stationery from the old Post Office, Angela provides vegetables and we have fresh fish from the back of a van on Thursday.
We might criticise the Co-op for running out of stock, but what would we do without it and as far as I can see it's not the staff's fault, all decisions on stock are taken by the head office in Warwick and not the local managers. How mad is that? Our branch is a 'Premium Store' which means we have more of their high end 'Truly Irresistible' range and which is why there are 41 different teas. I asked what their best seller was - Prosecco and salmon fillets. What a lot of lushes we are! That is why so much shelf space is given over to white wine.
When so many villages are losing not just their shops but pubs too, we must keep on 'use it or lose it' to ensure the High Street stays as vibrant as it is now and hope the Edge Road won't divert all the passing trade as well as the traffic. The big unknown of course is what is going to happen to the newly refurbished Home Care shop, the letting agents have been inundated with enquiries.
Spring had well and truly sprung this morning, with the sun shining and the High Street bustling with customers.
A short wander into town with the kids in tow, we headed straight to the Paddock to burn off some energy before settling down to a restorative cup of the good stuff (freshly ground of course!) and a delicious bacon sandwich, on the tastiest fresh bread, at The Granary.
After devouring our breakfast, we doubled back to drop off some books at our ever so handy local library and fought our way through the crowds to buy some of Kitty Tait's mouth-watering creations at The Orange Bakery's latest pop-up in The Social (sugary cinnamon buns & donuts - delish!).
Fully laden with baked goods we popped into my husband's favourite shop - Calnan Brothers. With so much variety it's always hard to choose what to buy here, but eventually we settled for some chipolatas, two juicy rib-eyes and a heart-shaped brie!
Final stop at The Undercroft to stock up on veggies and couldn't resist a sunny bunch of daffodils to bring a little of the Spring home.
How lucky we are to be in Watlington!
Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) have informed us that they have given permission for Thames Water to close High Street to traffic from 11 - 15 March inclusive to allow for the installation of a new water connection.
A diversion will be in place along Love Lane & Chapel Street.
For further information please contact OCC.
The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed a slight change to our website. We've had a long overdue update to simplify and modernise our virtual shop window. We're not experts at web design so please do bear with us whilst we update the site, and if you spot any glitches or typos please do let us know on firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can now apply for membership of the WBA online by clicking on JOIN NOW and completing the form.
Our Business Directory is also getting a comprehensive update. If you spot any out of date information again please do let us know. Members of the WBA will benefit from a listing in our directory. We hope to develop the functionality of the directory in due course.
Let us know if there are any other features you would like to see. Check back regularly for updates as we continue to build the site.
A huge thank you to The Tree Barn for donating our tree again this year, and to everyone who helped to put it up this morning. Special thanks to Kenny Wilkinson from Benson Sawmills.