Banbury International

When we set up Visit Banbury we were absolutely determined to promote everything that was positive and community focused about Banbury.IMG_5154

We think we’ve done a reasonable job so far with lots of events, lots of social media supporting local businesses, organisations, events and people and a fair amount of community cohesion to help bring people together around the town.

However, eighteen months ago we never dreamt that we would be needing to promote community cohesion in the way we feel we need to now.

Recent events have meant that both anecdotally and via official reports, the UK is seeing an increase in the amount of hate, racism and xenophobia shown to people who just days ago were treated exactly like the rest of us.

We know for many people this is not a new phenomenon as they have frequently experienced racism but for a whole group of people who have made the UK their home, all of a sudden the UK rather than being a tolerant, welcoming and open society has become at best unfriendly and at worst hostile and nasty.

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So having attended BBC Breakfast’s Live TV broadcast from Banbury market place on Saturday morning Steve Gold and I sat and had a cup of tea at the Whistling Kettle and decided that irrespective of the political pros and cons, Visit Banbury needed to make some sort of stand in solidarity with all of the nationalities living and working in Banbury.

We decided to be the catalyst for a wider group of people to be able to show that they too were standing in solidarity with their neighbours regardless of race nationality or ethnicity.

And so was born “Banbury International”.

Banbury-Internation-Facebook-Group-Cover-Image (1)On Sunday morning, after quickly making contact with a number of different groups including Jake and the Banbury Community Action Group, the community focused folks at Naomi’s café, a network of positive individuals linked to a Visit Banbury initiative and also a dedicated Visit Banbury French speakers group in and around Banbury, we suggested to hold an event on Saturday 16th July in the BCAG Community Garden behind Naomi’s café and in order to quickly organise it, set up a closed Facebook Group for anyone who wanted to be involved.

After about 6 hours, 31 people were in the group and the event had been pretty much set up except for a few more specific details.

Following lots of frenetic messaging and emailing on Sunday afternoon and Monday, a group of us got together on Tuesday evening to finalise some of the details and the result of that is a free community event starting at 12pm which will be bringing together all of the communities in Banbury in a show of friendship solidarity and peace.

There is going to be live music, arts and crafts, activities for the children, a big table for everyone to bring food and share it amongst themselves and a pay bar at Naomi’s café.

There will also be a symbolic tree planting as a lasting sign of our community growing together.

Other details as yet are a little bit fluid as we want this to be an organically developing event, not too structured but more about being together sharing a common bond as human beings who just happen to live and work in Banbury.

Please keep an eye out for a Facebook event and posters and flyers around town in the coming days and please share them with all of your contacts so that as many members of the diverse communities attend and continue to build strong bonds across the town.

As some of you may know, the Visit Banbury initiative is based on ideas and an ethos developed by the Eden Project called The Big Lunch and Big Lunch Extras and we think this is a fitting way to continue to develop and sustain an amazing community network in Banbury.

Big love to you all and let’s make friendship and community a stronger force than fear and hatred.

Banbury-International-A4

Amazing art in Banbury and villages – Artweeks is here 21st – 30th May!

Guest Blog by Ella Hendy, artist & local Artweeks co-ordinator

Ella

If you’ve been in and around Banbury over the past couple of weeks, hopefully you’ve noticed the familiar blue and black logo, and lots of art, popping up.  This can mean only one thing – Oxfordshire Artweeks is on its way to our part of the county!

Artweeks Logo

We’re lucky here in Oxfordshire that we have the biggest and the longest running open studio event in the UK.  It’s already kicked off in Oxford city and on 21 May, Artweeks comes to Banbury and surrounding villages.

More than sixty painters and designers, potters and sculptors, photographers, jewellers and textile artists will be opening their homes, studios and other venues to showcase their talent through exhibitions and demonstrations.  And if you have spotted the displays already up in the former Moss Bros shop on the High Street or Banbury Museum shop, you will see that we are indeed a talented lot here in Banbury and villages.

This is just a taster – there will be so much more to see during the week!  There are a number of new Artweeks artists this year (including myself), and lots of familiar Artweeks faces, with some amazing new creations to show.  We’ve all been working very hard to make it a week to remember.

In Banbury itself there are seven different venues plus The Artery and a wealth of different creations to uncover – from photography to digital art, oil paintings to mixed-media canvases, glass work and jewellery.

Banbury Artweeks

There is a varied exhibition at The Mill on the theme ‘In a Land Faraway’.  And if you like what you see of Caroline Chappell’s work in the town centre in Hamptons, why not head to Middleton Cheney to see her at work in her home studio.

Venture further afield and discover a wealth of art in Sibford Ferris where the Temple Mill opens its doors to invite you in, or in the National Herb Centre at Warmington where four artists host a large exhibition of varied styles.  Enjoy rural watercolours amongst the agricultural machinery in the magnificent Swalcliffe barn; pots for pleasure and purpose in an Old Pig Pen Pottery in Bloxham and hand-carved spoons by master wood-worker Martin Damen in Great Bourton.  In Culworth see stone lithography prints inspired by the circus, or take a trip to Warden Hill where the Cool Contours arts and crafts centre where the tutors showcase their talent.

Artweeks 5

And that’s just for starters – there’s plenty more amazing art to uncover in Adderbury, Twyford, Deddington, Kings Sutton, North Newington, Milcombe and Sibford Gower too.  So best to pick up a copy of the Artweeks guide, one of our local trail maps, and plan your route!

Artweeks 1

I for one am very excited about Artweeks.  I’ll be at Naomi’s Café Bar with a new series of paintings, and my paints.  I’ll be offering you the opportunity to make your mark on Artweeks too, with a large interactive piece I have created for the week.  I hope to see you there!

Artweeks 2Anne Donnelly

Artweeks 3

Steve Gold

You can download a digital copy of our trail map here and for further information on artists, venues, and exhibitions visit www.artweeks.org  You can also keep up to date with all our news via our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/OxfordshireArtweeksBanbury

Our thanks to Hamptons, Senecio, Banbury Museum shop, Banbury Library, and Banbury Town Team for your support with our trail maps, taster exhibitions, or information displays.

Catch Ella @EllaartUK, Steve Gold @SteveGold123 and Oxfordshire Artweeks @OxonArtweeks on Twitter

Eating together makes you happier


Taking the time to sit down together over a meal helps create social networks that in turn have profound effects on our physical and mental health, our happiness and wellbeing, and even our sense of purpose in life.
http://bit.ly/1WraUN1

There is a growing number of Big Lunches taking place across Banbury and they are so easy to organise – go for it ! See the Facebook page Banbury Big Lunchers.

For more on organising a Big Lunch, see The Big Lunch info

The above blog was published on http://www.thebiglunchers.com

Geek Con Fast Track Pass Competition

Hi all !

One week to go until Geek Con 2016 happens in Banbury!

https://www.facebook.com/events/212690559064200/

Visit Banbury are really excited to be able to offer 2 Fast Track passes in a fun competition so that two lucky people can keep ahead of the crowds and not miss a moment of Geek Heaven!

Banbury presents

This is what the organisers of Geek Con, Banbury Presents, say about the Fast Track Passes:

FAST TRACK PASSES!

GEEK CON: Banbury’s 1st Comic Con and is coming to Banbury Town Centre for January 2016 and it’s so much more than the usual comic con.

With so much on at Geek con, you wouldn’t want to miss a minute! So why not treat yourself to our extra special service and get yourself a FAST TRACK PASS. A PASS gets you to the front of the queue in a flash and saves you time so you can get to as much of GEEK CON as you can squeeze into one day.

Yeah, we absolutely LOVE our STAR WARS, but we have so much more in store for you this January at Geek Con.

Geek Con brings together a classic con full of Q&A, signings, cosplay, gaming, showings and screenings, early releases and special appearances together with added features like body art demo, dance performance, circus and contortion, steam punk, modelling, art exhibition, illustration, music, fantasy battles, martial arts and stunt displays, behind the scenes workshops and much more.

Link to FAQ:

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=454404438080573&id=368250960029255

What do you need to do to win ?

Simple really – we know how much you all love Cosplay, so we are going to give one Fast Track Pass to what our three judges decide are the best home made costume and the best pro / shop bought outfit.

How you can win?  Meet our three judges at 8.45am on Saturday 30th January outside the entrance to Castle Quay by HMV and Debenhams and we will decide the two best cosplay costumes from the people who are there at 8.45am.

At 9am we will give you a code and go with you to the Geek Con desk so that you can pick up your wristbands which will allow you to have access as a Fast Track Pass holder.

Our judges’ decision will be final.

See you there !

Check out https://www.facebook.com/BYHPServices/ for info about a Wii Mario Kart Tournament for 16-25 year olds on the evening of Geek Con

Visit Banbury on social media:

http://www.twitter.com/visitbanbury

http://www.facebook.com/VisitBanbury/

http://www.instagram.com/visitbanbury/

 

 

 

VisitBanburyDigital

 

Banbury – A Kind and Fair Town

For some time we have been using the hashtag #kindtown to describe Banbury, as day in day out local people are constantly putting themselves out to help others.

A couple of examples of this are the relatively new groups that have been set up to help Flood Victims in the North of England:

“Banbury Flood Friends” https://www.facebook.com/groups/933015920107800/

and to help provide support migrants who are stuck in “camps” in Northern France as a result of them fleeing the terrible conditions in their home countries:

CalAid OX15 https://www.facebook.com/CalAidOX15/

CalAid OX15

Both are looking for various items to help people who have lost everything and you can make a difference by donating whatever you can to them. Please check out their facebook pages and donate if you possibly can.

However, there is a group in Banbury that has been focusing on fairness and equity for 10 years and that is Banbury’s Fairtrade Action who try to support overseas producers to ensure they receive a fair return on their production.

https://www.facebook.com/FairtradeActionBanbury/

At the back end of 2015 I met up with the group a couple of times to help them with a discussion on social media and promotion of their group in 2016.

One action that came out was to put a request out for any volunteers who might be interested in helping them run their Facebook and Twitter feeds (https://twitter.com/fairtradeab/status/540914516562034688)

The next 12 months is going to be a busy and interesting time as 2016 sees the 10th anniversary of Banbury as a Fairtrade Town and there will hence be a number of events, activities and competitions which will need to be promoted.

If you are interested, please contact them via the the group’s fb page.
https://www.facebook.com/FairtradeActionBanbury

So I guess we need a second hashtag #Fairtradetown to describe Banbury, especially in 2016.

Banbury has a new dish !

The Visit Banbury “Create a Banbury Dish” Competition has found its winner for 2015!

1 Phil Seal

Sunday 9th August 2015 saw the culmination of a few months’ work by the Visit Banbury team, our partners and most importantly a number of local chefs, to find a new savoury dish for Banbury as part of a new competition for enthusiastic cooks and chefs to create a brand-new dish for Banbury and help us put our lovely historic market town on the food map!

Visit Banbury launched as a community organisation back in January 2015 and very quickly identified the growing food trend in Banbury as an area in which to develop projects to interest and excite Banbury residents and to promote Banbury, its culinary diversity and heritage.

The competition, the idea of Visit Banbury team member and project lead Tina Huyghe, was very much focused on promoting the values upon which Visit Banbury was established, such as Community, Collaboration, Local Cohesion, Inclusion, Diversity, Happiness, Positivity and Fun !

The intention was to work together with food-based organisations and the public to find a savoury dish which could be identified as the Banbury Dish for 2015 and shared with all of the local eateries who could then do their interpretation to put on their menus as follows:

Key project objectives:

  • Help put Banbury on the food map
  • Collaboration between various groups and businesses in Banbury in a common purpose
  • The promotion of Banbury as a foodie tourist destination linked to the Food Fair
  • A way to generate publicity for Banbury and the Visit Banbury Project
  • A new tradition established for Banbury, to be run annually in future

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Fortunately, following a number of discussions we were quickly able to link up with just the type of organisations we had wished for, the Catering Department at Banbury and Bicester College, Banbury Cookery School at Little Amsterdam and Banbury Town Council’s Events team responsible for the Banbury Food Fair, so the project would be truly collaborative.

Over time, we added Naomi’s Café & Bar, Your Letterbox, The Grass Man, the Art Framing Workshop, Tudor Photography / Banbury Wedding Cars, Chiltern Railways, Cherwell Trophies and a well-known chef who trained locally, to the list of kind people and organisations who have gone out of their way to help us on the project, so truly becoming Banbury-wide.

The competition was open to anyone of any age who had Banbury in their address.

The competition brief:

  • Can be any type of hot or cold savoury dish
  • Easy to prepare or cook (not time-consuming)
  • Use fresh ingredients, locally sourced if possible to give a Banbury identity
  • Be cost-effective
  • Provide a vegetarian alternative if your dish is meat or fish-based
  • Easily adapted by local restaurateurs to reflect Banbury’s culinary diversity

The 3 finalists, Rebecca (Becca) O’Brien, Christina Welz (both from Banbury and Bicester College) and Phil Seal (a sous-chef working at the Coach and Horses in Butcher’s Row and freelance chef) were selected by a panel of judges after cooking their dishes at The Cherwell Restaurant of Banbury and Bicester College & The Coach and Horses in semi-final cook-offs at the end of June 2015. semifinal

An earlier Visit Banbury blog tells all about the initial stages.

Summary photo

https://visitbanbury.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/an-exciting-new-competition-for-banbury-the-visit-banbury-banbury-dish/

ChristinaWelz

Christina Welz and her honey-glazed loin of pork with fennel and caramelised apple.

3 CW Pork Dish

BeccaOBrien

Becca O’Brien and her lamb shoulder with pea purée.

4 ROLambDish

2 Finalists

On Sunday morning they again cooked their dishes at The Banbury Cookery School at Little Amsterdam in front of a packed restaurant at a special brunch session hosted by Visit Banbury, wonderfully compered by the inimitable Steve Gold and produced by Ilja Harvey Andrews (who was also one of the judges) and her team, who said “What a great morning. It was fabulous”.

Other comments can be seen from those tweeting using the hashtag #BanburyDish – click below

https://twitter.com/search?q=%23BanburyDish%20&src=typd

6 IljaHarveyAndrews

Ilja Harvey Andrews of Little Amsterdam

7 Steve Gold

Steve Gold of Visit Banbury

8 Judging

Official judges Tina and Marta of Visit Banbury deep in contemplation alongside Naomi Perkins of Naomi’s Café and Bar and Ilja. They were joined by “Mr Banburyshire Info”, Ian Gentles, who is also in the Visit Banbury team and Sophie Jones from Your Letterbox.

9 Judging3

4 judges and an additional 11 public tables tasted the delicious creations and decided on who had best met the specification of the competition, their reasoning linking their dish to Banbury, their proposed vegetarian alternative and by providing a cost-effective, locally sourced recipe and of course, the chef who executed their food with the best presentation and taste.

10 LA Brunch

After a close competition and much deliberation, the judges decided that Phil Seal and his “Banesebury Purple Pigeon Salad” was the winner of the Visit Banbury “Create a Banbury Dish” competition 2015 and he was awarded his trophy by Cllr John Donaldson who, as The Grass Man, had sponsored the purchase of the trophy from Cherwell Trophies in Parsons Street.

http://www.thegrassman.co.uk

11 The Grass Man

13 Phil Seal and Tina Huyghe

Phil is seen here with Tina Huyghe of Visit Banbury.

The winning Banbury Dish 2015 “Banesebury Purple Pigeon Salad”.

14 Winning Dish

After his victory at Little Amsterdam, Phil then went along to demonstrate his dish in front of a public audience at the Town Hall as part of Banbury Food Fair and then presented his winning menu to Town Mayor Cllr Mepham on behalf of the whole of Banbury.

15 Phil cooks Town Hall

16 Phil and Mayor

The Mayor congratulated Phil on his winning dish and also gave thanks to the Visit Banbury project team for organising new innovative, local project events in Banbury to coincide with his second Mayoral term. Later Phil said “thank you so much for today” and it “was so nerve-wracking”.

Visit Banbury will now share the winning recipe with all of the local restaurants and pubs for them to put their own twist on it for customers to try. Already, The Coach and Horses and Little Amsterdam have agreed to add their versions of the dish to their menus. This will be promoted to encourage people into the town’s restaurants to try the Banbury Dish 2015.

If you are interested in having a version of the Visit Banbury “Banbury Dish 2015” on your menu and for Visit Banbury to promote you please contact Visitbanbury@aol.com or contact us via Facebook or Twitter.

In addition to the opportunity to cook at the Banbury Food Fair and to meet the Mayor and have his menu shared across Banbury, Phil also took away the trophy, a Visit Banbury Commendation plus a very special prize as follows, about which Phil said “amazed by the prize, really looking forward to it” and “I cannot wait to see how the man does it himself”.

  • On an agreed date in the future, the winner and a guest of their choice will be picked up in style and transported from their home to Banbury train station in “Marilyn” the amazing 1969 Mark II 2.4 Jaguar limousine courtesy of Helen & Harry of Tudor Photography / Wedding Cars Banbury; (Photo courtesy of Tudor Photography)

Marilyn

  • On arrival at Banbury train station, they will travel on VIP passes for the day courtesy of Chiltern Railways on their network, allowing access to the Business Zone of the train, travelling to London Marylebone to spend the day as they wish; (Photo courtesy of Chiltern Railways)Chiltern Railways
  • Afterwards the winner and their guest will make their way to the heart of the West End to enjoy dinner as guests of Gordon Ramsay and his team at Heddon Street Kitchen, in Regent Street Food Quarter, W1B 4BE and to experience the kitchens first hand as part of a brief tour to meet the professionals at work; http://t.co/EBOk2BxqBQ (Photo courtesy of Heddon Street Kitchen / http://www.Gordonramsayrestaurants.com)IMG_6930
  • Then back to Marylebone to travel back to Banbury with Chiltern Railways and a taxi paid by Visit Banbury back home.

Visit Banbury were particularly thrilled to get the support of Gordon Ramsay who trained as a chef in Banbury. In a direct message to Tim Tarby-Donald, tweeting as @VisitBanbury on Twitter, Gordon advised that he “would love to support in some way” as “it was Banbury Round Table that helped fund me”.

Visit Banbury have been working with Gordon’s team at Heddon Street Kitchen and they have been very generous and flexible in helping us offer our young chef and his guest an amazing, inspirational prize.

“Gordon seems to have taken a particular interest in this competition supporting young chefs in Banbury” said Tim, adding “Gordon even tweeted Phil on Sunday to wish him Well Done”.

Thanks from The Visit Banbury Project Team to the organisations who have worked in conjunction with us to achieve our goal of creating a food competition for the Community within Banbury.

Visit Banbury Banbury Dish Competition 2015 Partners

Banbury and Bicester College, Banbury Cookery School / Little Amsterdam, Banbury Town Council / Banbury Food Fair, Naomi’s Café & Bar, John Donaldson – The Grass Man, Tudor Photography / Banbury Wedding Cars, Chiltern Railways, Your Letterbox, The Art Framing Workshop, Cherwell Trophies and to a certain GR who trained in Banbury and the team at Heddon Street Kitchen in London.

17 Recipe

18 VB Commendation

Tina with Phil’s winning recipe presented to The Mayor and Phil’s Visit Banbury Commendation for winning the competition.

As part of the food projects in the pipeline, the Visit Banbury team are looking to include all of the recipes from the finalists in a Banbury Recipe book being developed, plus work is already underway to explore how Banbury Cheese and Banbury Ale might be revived as local food and drink products and a very exciting project using chocolate is being explored with a view to creating wonderful sweet souvenirs.

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All rights reserved Visit Banbury 2015. Photos copyright of Visit Banbury unless otherwise stated and credited.

The Banbury Big Lunch blog part 1

Hopefully by now you would have understood that one of the core values of the Visit Banbury project is Community.

What you may not know is the Visit Banbury project is born out of an amazing initiative established by the guys at the Eden Project in Cornwall called the Big Lunch.

http://www.thebiglunch.com

     

In 2009 the Eden Project released an idea across the UK, a very simple idea, to sit down with your neighbours for a few hours on one day of the year and to share lunch. And that was it. 

A very simple idea of how to get together and start to build a community, even without actively thinking that you are building a community.

Some of us, having seen an advert for the Big Lunch, decided that we would run around for the next six weeks and put together a street party in Queens Road, Banbury.

  
There were a few challenges at times but mainly everybody was really supportive and we got the road closed, insurance, entertainment, a bouncy castle, music, food, fun games and lots and lots of people altogether and we had a wonderful party despite the terrible British weather. 

In fact, the terrible British weather actually helped, because when it rained we all huddled under a gazebo,  we all put food on one single table and shared it amongst ourselves and we started to talk and we build friendships and those friendships have lasted nearly 7 years so far.

And that is kind of it, a very simple idea to get together and share food and conversation and laughter, with a few – or many – of your neighbours to build a network, a community, a resilient, supportive group of people, who are there for each other in the good times and the fun times but also in the difficult times. 

 
People often hark back to the good old days; well this is one example of how you can turn back the clock to re-establish a community amongst your closest of neighbours so that you don’t feel isolated, alone, afraid or bored!

Nowadays there is always something going on – a party, a book club, a sports event, a chat, a coffee and meetings about all sorts of things, including the next Big Lunch street party!!

This year, after attending the next phase called Big Lunch Extras at the Eden Project, we decided that it was time to encourage others around Banbury to hold their own Big Lunches.

So the Visit Banbury project have set up a Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/pages/Banbury-Big-Lunchers/1428236297476106 and we are actively supporting other people around Banbury in the organising and setting up of their own big lunch events.

This year, Queens Road is holding our sixth Big Lunch with the theme of “60s 70s flower power festival”. It will be a chance to dig out the  flowery shirts and bellbottom trousers; everything to do with festivals but also creativity with floral displays and decorations to brighten up the whole street.

As usual, there will be bring-and-share food and lots of it, fun for the kids with the bouncy castle, live music, face painting, competitions such as the best dressed front garden, our mega raffle and lots of fun, smiles and laughter. 

What could be better than a day when the street outside our front doors is cleared of cars, the road is empty and the kids can run up and down or cycle up and down in safety and the knowledge that they are part of a growing community.

For more about the Big Lunch in Queens Road see:
http://www.Twitter.com/biglunchqnsrd

http://pinterest.com/biglunchqnsrd/flower-power-festival-queens-road-big-lunch-2015-q/

And lots of fab photos from previous years’ events: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ypbp9dbycci2vu9/AACkIwzhEmK73rhSF3nxZal1a?dl=0

The second part of this blog will focus on some of the other events being organised around Banbury – the main Big Lunch day around the UK is 6 weeks from today, so still plenty of time to organise your get together for that day or an alternative date later in the Summer.